Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Boy Arrested Over Australia's Needles In Strawberries Scare

Needle apple aus 7 News Youtube
Melinda Barton | 19 September, 2018, 15:24

The report came after a 7-year-old girl in South Australia state found a needle in a Western Australia-grown strawberry on Saturday.

The arrest was announced by New South Wales police on Wednesday, Sept. 19, with Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith saying the boy had been arrested in the last few days.

He was apparently performing a copycat prank and will be dealt with under the youth cautioning system.

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.

"The student fortunately discovered the fruit was contaminated before biting into it".

Officials said the contaminated fruit appeared to have originated at a Queensland-based supplier.

The social media trend is timely considering some brands of strawberries have been removed from supermarket shelves, and farmers across Australia have had to dump their fruit amid the peak growing season.

"He did not recall the needle being in the sink prior to preparing the strawberries".

Mr Morrison said the spread of actions in all States needed tougher laws immediately.

Both of New Zealand's biggest supermarket chains decided on Monday to halt Australian strawberry orders for now, even though the country's Ministry of Primary Industries confirmed none of the contaminated strawberry brands had made it on to shop shelves.

Previously, nearly a dozen incidents were reported in six brands of strawberries across six states and territories.

"It's not a joke". It's not amusing. You're putting the livelihoods of hard-working Australians at risk.

Authorities are warning consumers to slice the fruit before eating it.

A police operation involving 100 officers across multiple states is now under way to hunt down those responsible.

There have been 20 contamination incidents reported across NSW alone, spanning the state from Tweed Heads to Albury.

Sweeping reforms will be introduced to Parliament, raising the penalty for tampering from 10 years to 15 years.

"This is a shocking and cowardly thing for this individual and others who have jumped onto the bandwagon here to have engaged in", Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Additionally, anyone who piggy-backs off such a crisis by engaging in a reckless hoax would also face 10 years behind bars.

SBS reports a needle was found by a woman who purchased a six-pack of pink lady apples from a Woolworths supermarket in The Ponds in Sydney's south-west.

The Federal Government has also pledged A$1 million in support for the industry.