Former Strawberry Farm Supervisor Charged Over Contamination Scandal
Police have charged a 50-year-old woman over strawberry needle contamination scandal.
The woman worked as a supervisor on a strawberry farm, however Police were unable to disclose any more information about the accused.
"The accused was an employee within the strawberry industry in the Caboolture area," Detective John Walker told media on Monday.
"As this matter is now before the courts, I cannot provide further details of the evidence which we are relying upon to support the prosecution."
The woman was arrested and charged with seven counts of contamination of goods under Section 238 Criminal Code on Sunday evening.
Ordinarily, the charges carry a maximum three year jail term, however Police will allege their was "a circumstance of aggravation" raising the possible jail time to 10 years.
Police did not comment on the motive of the alleged contamination, however did say DNA evidence would form part of their case.
"The DNA evidence will be part of the brief of evidence that we'll submit to the court," Walker said.
Police launched the investigation into the needle contamination when a man allegedly swallowed an affected berry in Queensland on September 9. Two people in Victoria also came forward detailing alleged similar incidents.
Walker said the two-month investigation was one of the most difficult he has worked on. where police from a number of jurisdictions had to work together to achieve an arrest.
“This has probably been one of the most trying investigations that I've been part of. As I said, we've worked tirelessly. It's a fairly unique investigation where virtually the whole of State Crime Command, over 100 members from State Crime Command undertook the investigation,” Walker said.
“We reached out to our counterparts throughout Queensland and Australia, and as I said, it's 231 reports Australia-wide, so a fairly unique investigation impacting virtually every state and jurisdiction in Australia."
Since the initial report, 230 contamination reports across Australia were received by police impacting 68 strawberry brands, with 49 of these being Queensland-based brands.
Nearly 186 of the alleged incidents involved sewing needles and 15 reports are believed to be hoax or false complaints.
The contamination scandal saw countless amounts of fruit be dumped strawberries recalled and supermarkets pulling stock from their shelves. Some supermarket chains in New Zealand also removed Australian product from their stores.
Thewoman has had her bail application withdrawn and will reappear in court on November 22.
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