'Copy-Cat' Fears After More Needles Found In Strawberries
A nine-year-old boy nearly swallowed a needle after eating a strawberry in Queensland.
The strawberry contamination crisis has widened with a copycat scare in the Lockyer Valley, on top of four reported cases across Queensland and Victoria.
One mother in Gladstone has revealed the situation almost turned deadly when her one-year-old child came close to swallowing a needle.
For Angela Stevenson, it became all too real when she found a needle while cutting up strawberries for her one-year-old.
She then rang the school knowing her nine-year-old also had fruit from the same punnet.
“I bit into it and I felt it and then it all went in my mouth and I pulled the needle out,” Mason Stevenson said.
"You’re not hurting the employer, you're hurting innocent people, children, y'know, disgusting, there's some sick people out there,” Angela told Ten Eyewitness News.
The scare has widened with a suspected copycat at a Coles supermarket in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane.
Police said a small steel rod was placed on top of a punnet of strawberries but not inserted inside.
After more than one reported incident, the message to consumers has now changed.
Queensland Health officials said all strawberry consumers should be wary.
“My advice is just to be ultra cautious and simply cut up those strawberries before consuming them,” Jeanette Young from Queensland Health has warned.
Some within the industry believe a disgruntled former fruit packer is to blame but police are keeping an open mind.
“We are in the process of identifying all current employees and recently past employees and working through the process of interviewing them and establishing what we can,” Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence from Queensland Police said.
Investigators have spent hours on the supplier’s farm in Wamuran, north of Brisbane.
The two brands of strawberries, Berry Licious and Berry Obsession, which are sold in eastern states have all been recalled.
Before this incident the grower was well regarded in the industry, but now he’s had to shut down before the end of the season and might not ever recover.
There are also fears it could devastate the wider industry. Growers said it’s another painful setback for many already at breaking point.