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Strawberries scare: consumers urged to throw out fruit after needles found inside

Consumers are being urged to throw out strawberries bought over the past week in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria after needles were found inside the fruit.

Health officials and police on Wednesday said needles were hidden in at least three punnets of strawberries supplied to Woolworths from a south-east Queensland farm.

Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said people in NSW, Victoria and Queensland should throw away any strawberries bought since early last week.

“There are two specific brands [affected], Berry Obsession and Berrylicious,” Young said. “It is one farm that this has occurred at, that is implicated, in south-east Queensland.

“If people have any strawberries, it is easiest, because most people may not know what brand they have bought – they will put them in the fridge or the freezer – to dispose of them.

“If someone were to swallow a sewing needle, it could get caught up in their gut.”

A Brisbane man, Joshua Gane, reported swallowing a needle on Sunday, sparking the investigation. Gane said he was driving when his friend bit through a strawberry “and swallows half a sewing needle”.

“We then checked the other strawberries and found another sewing needle lodged inside one of them,” he wrote on Facebook.

“We are now at the ER because he subsequently started experiencing severe abdominal pain. Just being a helpful member of the community and making sure your children don’t have to endure what we have had to experience today. Please make your family and friends aware.”

Acting chief superintendent Terry Lawrence said police had spoken to the farm owners but would not say at what point he believed the product became contaminated.

Lawrence said that the public health message of disposing of the strawberries was primarily important, but “if someone does locate a needle and they have packaging, please provide it to police.”
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