Qld police hunt for berry saboteur

Qld police hunt for berry saboteur


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RECALLED: Berry Obsession is one of the strawberry brands recalled over sewing needle contamination fears.

RECALLED: Berry Obsession is one of the strawberry brands recalled over sewing needle contamination fears.

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It's believed a disgruntled worker put sewing needles in strawberries.

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Police hunting for a culprit who put sewing needles in strawberries are investigating whether a disgruntled worker could be to blame.

Sewing needles have been found hidden inside strawberries sold at Woolworths, sparking a recall of two brands that had been sold in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

One man who ate strawberries purchased north of Brisbane ended up at a hospital emergency department after swallowing part of a needle and developing severe pain.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association has said early reports indicate a disgruntled farm worker may be responsible for the alarming act.

It says the two brands affected, Berry Obsession and Berrylicious, had come from the same farm.

Police won't say if they have any leads, and will talk to the association about its suspicions a worker could be to blame.

"That is a comment by the Queensland Strawberry Growers and we will talk with them to see if they have any information to assist us," Queensland Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence has told the Nine Network.

He repeated health department advice for people to ditch any affected berries they have bought between September 5 and 8, or cut them open to make sure they are safe to eat.

Police are checking every step of the production chain.

Jennifer Rowling, from Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, says growers are devastated by the incident, but customers can be sure that berries purchased from Thursday are safe.

"We just really want to reinforce that it was one farm that's been affected - the two labels within the one farm, and all those strawberries have been pulled off the shelves," she has told ABC radio.

"We're hoping people can see this for what it is, and that is an isolated incident.

"(It is) suspected that someone like a disgruntled employee may have done something."

The recall follows the discovery of three contaminated punnets.

One was purchased at the Strathpine Centre, north of Brisbane, while the other two punnets were found in Victoria.

One was found in Yarram, in Gippsland, and another in Sebastopol, a southern suburb of Ballarat.

Woolworths has encouraged its customers to return suspect products for a full refund.

Australian Associated Press

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