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Farmers in Australia have installed metal detectors to test strawberries. In several batches, sewing needles were hid

Sharp objects could get into the fruit that was carried all over the country. For the information about the guilty, a reward was announced.

Photo of the Queensland Police / EPA

What happened

Since September 9 in Australia, in several consignments of fruits and berries , sewing needles hidden inside the strawberry have been found. The first cases occurred in the state of Queensland: the complaint came from a local resident who swallowed the fruit and ended up in the hospital. Together with friends, he checked another strawberry and found in one of them another needle.

On two more cases with the hidden needles became known on September 17. Residents of the states of Victoria and New South Wales noted that sharp objects were found right in the supermarket, when they checked berries for safety reasons. Australians in social networks advised to cut strawberries before consumption or to make mashed potatoes from it, so that the needles do not cut the mouth, throat or internal organs.

Scope

The police began an investigation and found out that the supply of fruit from seven producers from all over Australia is under suspicion. They supply farm products to most of the country’s supermarkets, so warnings circulated to residents of all six states.

The authorities of Queensland promised to pay 100 thousand Australian dollars (about 72 thousand US dollars) to someone who will report some information about the laying of needles in the strawberry.

The Australian police are sure that the needles are placed not only by the original criminals, but also by their imitators. Local residents told about several cases: sharp objects dropped out of berries during washing, and some were found in bananas and apples. Because of this, now almost all fruits are advised to cut and check before eating.

Effects

Most supermarkets across Australia have abandoned the sale of strawberries, including the largest networks of Coles and Aldi. Hypermarkets Foodstuards and Countdown in New Zealand stopped selling Australian strawberries.

The Association of Strawberry Producers of Australia stated that it has strengthened product verification measures, including the installation of metal detectors. Queensland is considered one of the world’s largest producers of strawberries – in total, it brings up to 130 million Australian dollars.

The main version during the investigation: someone from the farmers for personal reasons hid the needles in several batches of berries that could get into any Australian city. Police officers in six states have not yet named a single suspect. Representatives of the authorities called these crimes “insensitive” and added that the perpetrator faces up to 10 years in prison.

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