Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Economy | By

Strawberries pulled from shelves in New Zealand after needles found within

Strawberries pulled from shelves in New Zealand after needles found within

"Countdown is in contact with both New Zealand and Australian authorities as they investigate this matter", a spokesman said.

The Australian scare over needles found in strawberries has spread to New Zealand after needles were found in a punnet of the fruit in an Auckland supermarket.

They also advised people to cut up any Australian strawberries before eating them.

The supermarket chain said there have so far been no illnesses reported from consuming the brand of strawberries.

Queensland Police are leading an investigation into the source of the needles, and the state's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stumped up a reward of $100,000 for anyone with information that leads to the capture of the culprits.

The needles were found in a sample of Choice brand strawberries sold at a Countdown supermarket in Auckland.

The strawberries affected by this withdrawal have not previously had any issues of this nature reported and had not been withdrawn from sale in Australia, the release said.

Most are thought to be pranks or jokes on social media, but at least two minors have been questioned by police for carrying out hoaxes.

Food tamperers could spend 10 to 15 years behind bars under draft laws passed by the government on Thursday.

The company's decision to withdraw Australian strawberries from sale follows a similar move from the rival Foodstuffs retailer.

NSW police reported more than 20 incidents of contamination in NSW since September 12, but those were all believed to be copycat reports not connected to the initial contamination in Queensland.

The emergence of a sabotage scare across the Tasman is the latest blow for Australian fruit growers, who have been grappling with a plummet in demand and wholesale prices since the saga began.

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