Sewing needles found in Australian strawberries, farmer 'devastated'

Andrew Cummings
September 16, 2018

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

It comes a day after consumers in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales were urged to throw out berries bought in the past week following three similar incidents, one in Queensland and two in Victoria.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association believes a disgruntled farm worker may be responsible but police say they are investigating all aspects of the strawberry transit process.

Queensland man Hoani Hearne wound up in hospital after swallowing part of a needle and developing severe abdominal pain on Sunday.

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said that following today's potential "copycat" incident, people should be "ultra cautious" and cut up any strawberries before consuming them.

Police said a Coles employee had discovered the silver rod in a punnet of strawberries they had purchased at work.


Queensland Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence says its a complex operation, because the industry provides more than 250,000 punnets of strawberries in Queensland alone in a five-day period.

"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.

The contaminated strawberries come from one farm and police suspect the ground-down needles were deliberately planted, with the culprit intending to cause "grievous bodily harm or other objectives".

The store manager subsequently contacted them and issued a recall, as well as contacting police and health officials.

"People can go back and buy the strawberries they normally buy, from anywhere", she said.

What brands have been affected?


"As the products have yet to be forensically examined, it is unknown if the contamination is related to the original Queensland incident or a copycat".

"Any strawberries bought from 13 September are safe and any strawberries that you are certain are not the brands Berry Licious and Berry Obsession are safe", Dr Young said.

A thin metal object, possibly another needle, was found in a punnet in Gatton.

Police have been investigating at the Berrylicious and Berry Obsession farms.

"People are contacting us out of concern and saying: 'This is what I've got, what do you think?'", he said.

"We could be finished by the weekend", he said.


"As with all farmers who produce food for our nation, strawberry growers strive to ensure the quality, security and freshness of their produce and these spiteful incidents have been extremely disheartening and troubling", the association wrote in a statement. "We're keeping a very open mind as to where this may have occurred somewhere between the actual growing of the strawberry through to the completion of the production line and going even further through to distribution and going on to the shelves".

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