Dissatisfied employee suspected of planting needles in strawberries

<pre><pre>Dissatisfied employee suspected of planting needles in strawberries

The Strawberry Growers Association of Queensland says a former disgruntled employee could be responsible for the contamination of the strawberries.

Sewing needles have been found in at least three straw baskets.

"At this time, the Strawberry Growers Association of Queensland has reason to suspect that a disgruntled former employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, where sewing needles were found in several strawberries," the industry body said in a statement.

Consumers are urged to throw away strawberries purchased last week in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Health officials and police said Wednesday that the sewing needles were hidden in at least three strawberry baskets that were supplied to Woolworths on a farm in southeast Queensland.

A man from Queensland found this needle in his strawberry.

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Those strawberries were purchased in Queensland and Victoria, but it is unclear if the brands involved, Berry Obsession and Berry Liscious, are supplied to other retailers.

"I'm here today to let people know if they bought strawberries in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria since the beginning of last week, that they should get rid of them," said Queensland Health Health Chief Jeanette Young.

"If someone swallows a sewing needle, it could get trapped in their gut."

Police began an investigation on Sunday after a Queensland man reported swallowing a contaminated berry.

Two people in Victoria have come forward after similar experiences.

Acting Acting Superintendent Terry Lawrence did not say at what point in the supply chain the police believe the needles were planted.

He declined to name the farm involved, but said the investigators had been in contact with his operator and representatives of Woolworths.

Woolworths removed the strawberries from their shelves on Wednesday and consumers can trust to buy them from Thursday onwards, Dr. Young added.