'Disgruntled ex-employee' blamed for needle in Woolworths strawberries



The Queensland farmer and owner of the Berrylicious and Berry Obsession brands has seen his company's name splashed all over the national news alongside horror stories of sickening discoveries inside his fruit. All punnets have been recalled.

Any strawberries bought from 13 September are safe.

On Thursday, police said they feared there may be copycat culprits as a needle was found in another batch of strawberries.

"While no other brands of strawberries have been implicated, if consumers are concerned, they should consider chopping them up before consumption".

Health authorities are urging people to cut up strawberries to make sure they are safe to eat and police want anyone who finds a needle to contact them.

Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence said people responsible for contaminating the fruit could be charged with maliciously causing grievous bodily harm.

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"Luckily, in each of those cases, the needles were found within the strawberry by the person who had purchased them when cutting the strawberries, as we had asked them to do", he said.

It comes after NSW mother Chantal Faugeras posted to Facebook images of strawberries she said were bought from a Coles supermarket on the NSW Mid North Coast on Tuesday. "It wasn't five minutes later they rang back and said it was too late, he'd actually bitten into it", she told ABC radio.

The confirmed cases happened in Queensland and Victoria, police said, adding that the brands are sold at locations in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

The health concerns over needles and pins found inside Australian strawberries are continuing to escalate with NSW police now warning up to six brands may have been affected.

They suspect the Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis labels have also had sewing needles inserted in them.

It is unclear if Ms Faugeras' discovery is related to the earlier incidents or a potential copycat.

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One man has been taken to hospital for assessment after swallowing a portion of an embedded needle.

The contaminated berries are limited to two brands: Berry Obsession and Berry Licious.

"We're fairly confident if people do come forward with a needle in a strawberry, particularly with the packaging, that will provide us with some information", he said.

Investigators have also now confirmed a fourth contamination incident as having occurred in a punnet of strawberries.

NSW Police said: "So far, NSW Police Force has received reports of contaminated strawberries purchased at supermarkets at Tweed Heads, Taree, and Wingham". It was treated as a copycat incident.

But Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said just be ultra-cautious before eating them, no matter where you buy them from.

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She then described the suspect to the officer and provided details about his vehicle and his home, Alaniz said . The next two killings occurred in the hours after the woman escaped early Saturday, authorities said.

"I said I need you to stop him from eating the strawberries".

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