Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Australia’s strawberry ‘terrorism’ spurs proposal for 15-year jail term

Australia’s strawberry ‘terrorism’ spurs proposal for 15-year jail term

It comes as New Zealand food distributors removed Australian strawberries from their shelves as a precaution, further adding to the devastation caused by the unidentified culprit. A 7-year-old girl also discovered a needle, but was not injured.

Australia's Department of Health ordered a review into the handling of strawberries after fruit containing sewing needles was found in supermarkets across the country.

Police said the boy, who has not been named, confessed to the gag as investigations continue over deliberate fruit contamination.

Strawberries Australia's industry development officer Jennifer Rowling told the ABC that the industry is "devastated by this incident and it's distressing to think that someone's done something like this".

The needles, originally found in strawberries produced from one supplier in the northern state of Queensland, are now turning up around the country.

Australian politician Andrew Broad said: "I refuse to let some sicko wreck the income of our strawberries farmers [sic]".

Anyone found guilty of contaminating food could soon face a maximum of 15 years in prison, up from 10 years. The crime was first reported in neighboring Queensland, where local strawberry farmers have said that they had reason to suspect they were being targeted by a disgruntled former employee with a grudge against the industry.

"A member of the public today presented at York police station to report his concerns that a needle had been in a punnet of strawberries", the Western Australian police said in a statement. "We will transition to locally grown strawberries in a few days as the local season starts", he said.

Empty shelves normally stocked with strawberry punnets are seen at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane
Empty shelves normally stocked with strawberry punnets are seen at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane

Others fear the rising number of cases is down to copycats.

The West Australian government has followed Queensland in offering a A$100,000 reward for any information on the tampering.

"When the fruit was consumed this morning, a needle was found inside one of the strawberries".

On Tuesday, police in New South Wales said they were investigating incidents involving an apple and a banana.

Asked about the mood among Victorian growers ahead of the harvest, Mr Calle said: "They are anxious that this is going to impact us when we start, that people are not going to buy strawberries".

On Sunday a Sunshine Coast strawberry grower announced on Facebook that they had informed their 100 staff that they were now out of work and the farm's paddocks of fresh strawberries were being destroyed.

He said other growers were being forced to do the same, with others cutting back on staff in the wake of the nationwide strawberry contamination.

Strawberry Growers Association of Western Australia president Neil Handasyde said growers had received requests from major retailers and insurance companies to scan fruit for needles.

Netflix ties longtime Emmy darling HBO in total wins
Peter Dinklage won for Game of Thrones , and Thandie Newton was chosen for her supporting role in sci-fi series Westworld . The biggest award won by a broadcast network was " Saturday Night Live " for best variety sketch series.

Like this: