Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

'Act of treachery': NSW Police warning to fruit contaminators, copycats

'Act of treachery': NSW Police warning to fruit contaminators, copycats

The Australian government says it will introduce stricter criminal penalties in response to a fruit contamination scare that has alarmed the country.

A man told police in York, Western Australia he had found a needle in the sink after washing a punnet of strawberries. Queensland Police do not believe the banana incident is connected.

Strawberry prices have already dropped around the country, with prices in Western Australia now below the cost of production, ABC News reported over the weekend.

Needles hidden inside strawberries have been found in two more Australian states, police said on Monday, adding that no injuries have been reported.

Contaminated strawberries have now been found in supermarkets Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Since then, at least six more brands are believed to have been contaminated, prompting a mass recall and one of New Zealand's two major food chains to stop stocking Australian products.

Foodstuffs has halted the distribution of Australian strawberries after sewing needles were found inside the fruit sold in supermarkets across the Tasman.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered a federal investigation into the contamination. "This a vicious crime, it's created to injure, and possibly worse, members of the population at large", Hunt said.

Sewing needles and pins have been deliberately placed inside strawberries across the ditch.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud had earlier called for jail time for those responsible for the sabotage.

Border Patrol agent charged with murdering 4
Ortiz stated that he pulled over after Luera "became nervous" and began accusing Ortiz of being the last person seen with Ramirez. "He was profiling certain kinds of victims", Alaniz said according to CNN , adding "the suspect was hunting for his victims".

Police on Tuesday said they still did not know the motive for the attacks and were still looking for suspects.

Their loss will be eased slightly after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a $1 million fund to help farmers bounce back and restore consumer confidence in fruit stocks.

"This is no doubt the worst thing to ever happen to my family... within three days we lost it all", Ms Cheeange wrote in an emotional Facebook post.

The warning to throw out or cut up strawberries remains in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The Queensland state government has offered a A$100,000 (£55,000; $72,000) reward for information.

Mr Stewart did not give details but confirmed police were also investigating a banana contamination.

A spokesman for the Australian retail conglomerate Woolworths Group said its New Zealand supermaket chain Countdown would not place new orders with Australian growers.

"Berry Licious, Berry Obsession, Donnybrook, Oasis and Love Berry branded strawberries have been withdrawn from shelves as a precautionary measure", the spokeswoman said.

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