Strawberry needle scare: Contamination affects six brands in Australia

Health officials have warned people purchasing strawberries to be cautious. Courtesy: BBC

Australians have been warned to cut fresh strawberries before biting into them after several people found sewing needles hidden inside the fruit.

Contaminated punnets have been reported in supermarkets in the states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

One man was taken to hospital after eating a strawberry with a needle inside. A nine-year old boy bit into a contaminated fruit but did not swallow.

Several brands of strawberries have been withdrawn.

These include Donnybrook strawberries and those sold by the Woolworths Group under the Berry Obsession and Berry Licious names.

Health officials have urged people purchasing the fruit to be cautious.

The warnings came after a contaminated punnet was reported by Joshua Gane, who wrote in a Facebook post that a 21-year-old friend had suffered “severe abdominal pain”.

“Until advised, consumers should cut up strawberries before consuming them,” Queensland Health later said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Jennifer Rowling of the Queensland Strawberry Growers’ Association said she believed the strawberries had been “interfered with”.

She referred to the problem as “an isolated incident” and “sabotage”.

Australia’s strawberry industry is worth some A$130m ($94m; £70m) a year and there are concerns that such incidents could have a lasting detrimental impact on sales.