$100,000 reward offered to find person putting needles in Australia strawberries

'Someone is trying to sabotage the industry but also in doing that, they are putting babies’ and children’s and families’ lives at risk'

'We're keeping an eye on it': Fruit sellers in Australia vigilant as needles and pins found in strawberries

A $100,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for deliberately putting needles in strawberries in Queensland.

Police are warning people to slice the fruit before eating it amid fears six brands of strawberries in Australia have been contaminated with needles and pins.

Strawberries sold under the Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Donnybrook Berries brands have already been recalled – and it is now believed the Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis brands may also have been contaminated by a copycat.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has offered a reward of 100,000 Australian dollars (£54,742) for information about those responsible for the contaminated fruit, which is believed to have originated at a Queensland-based supplier.

“Someone is trying to sabotage the industry but also in doing that, they are putting babies’ and children’s and families’ lives at risk,” she said.

Police have urged consumers to take any potentially contaminated fruit to their local police station.

“As the products have yet to be forensically examined, it is unknown if the contamination is related to the original Queensland incident or a copycat,” New South Wales (NSW) Police said in a statement on Friday.

“Police are urging anyone who has purchased contaminated product to take the punnet to their local police station immediately for triage and forensic examination.”

The warning came after a contaminated punnet was reported by Joshua Gane, who wrote in a Facebook post that a 21-year-old friend had suffered “severe abdominal pain”.

Queensland Health said it was safe to purchase strawberries but that people should cut up all strawberries before consuming them.

Queensland is a major strawberry producer in a national industry worth more than 130 million Australian dollars a year.

Woolworths Group has removed all the affected brands from shelves in its supermarkets, but continues to sell other varieties of the fruit.

Strawberry prices have dropped around the country.

ABC News reported on Saturday that wholesale prices had halved to $0.50 per punnet below the cost of production in western Australia, where strawberries crops are now peaking, with growers forced to dump tonnes of the fruit.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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