'Disgruntled Employee' Accused of Putting Sewing Needles in Strawberries: Cops

Ivan Schwartz
September 16, 2018

So far four contaminated punnets have been found - two in Queensland and two in Victoria.

The couple called police after seeing a breaking news alert yesterday warning of incidents across the country.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young says anyone else who had bought the brands of strawberries without signs of tampering should return them to the store or throw them away.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence said identical needles had been found in the Donnybrook punnets and added "another whim" to the investigation.

At this stage police are unsure if the cases are related or copy-cat incidents.

NSW Police warned on Friday that six brands of strawberries may be contaminated by sewing needles.

"We have withdrawn Berry Obsession and Berry Licious branded strawberries from sale while this incident is being investigated with our suppliers".

"At this time, (we) have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, wherein sewing needles were found in a number of strawberries, in Queensland and Victoria", a statement from the association said.

Queensland mum Angela Stevenson discovered her strawberries, which she had given to her son for school lunch, were contaminated after cutting into metal.

Police said a Coles employee had discovered the silver rod in a punnet of strawberries they had purchased at work.

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The needle problem first emerged in a Facebook post from Joshua Gane on September 9, who said they'd bought a punnet of "Berry Obsession" strawberries from Woolworths in Strathpine, 25km north of Brisbane, and was driving up the coast when his travelling companion bit through a strawberry and swallowed half a sewing needle.

He said police are "comfortable" that the issue with the "Berry Obsession" and "Berrylicious" brands had now been resolved, having been taken off the market.

The association has previously said it believes a disgruntled former farm worker may be responsible, but police say they are investigating all aspects of the strawberry transit process.

"I now say given that there's been these additional incidents, unrelated to that particular product, my advice is to be ultra cautious and simply cut up those strawberries before consuming them".

Van Dorp had to be taken to the emergency room with 'severe abdominal pain'.

Police were investigating the possibility of an extortion attempt or someone carrying out a vendetta against the supermarket giant.

But the bottom line is: If in doubt, throw them out.

"And told the teacher there was a needle in his strawberry".

Lawrence also encouraged people to check strawberries before they are consumed.

In a follow-up statement released on Facebook Thursday, the group said the strawberries were seemingly "interfered with between the time they were packed and the time they were purchased".

Other reports by GizPress

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