Police looking for strawberries puncture in Queensland

<pre><pre>Consumers urge to cut strawberries in half in the last warning

The police are still looking for the culprit who hid the sewing needles inside the strawberry stocks of a Sunshine Coast supplier.

A fourth basket of strawberries with needles was discovered on Thursday by a Gladstone woman whose son bit a contaminated berry he had brought to school in his lunch box.

A child in Gladstone ended up with a needle in his mouth on Tuesday after bringing strawberries to school.

Angela Stevenson says she was cutting fruit for her baby when she found a needle embedded in a berry. Upon realizing that his son had strawberries in his lunch box, he immediately called his school.

It was not five minutes later when they called again and said it was too late, that I had actually bitten him, "he told ABC radio.

"Fortunately, he took it out of his mouth and told the teacher."

A man posted a picture of the needle he found in a strawberry basket.


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

But Queensland strawberry growers, who are already struggling with low prices, are imploring customers to keep their product after sewing needles were discovered in the retail stocks of the fruit.

The Warmuran farm, which supplied the berries with the Berry Obsession and Berry Licious brands, was inspected by Queensland police and Australian border force officials on Thursday.

An investigation is also underway after a Coles employee found a small metal rod on the top of some strawberries inside a plastic basket on the shelves of a Gatton store in Queensland.

It is suspected that the incident is an attempt at imitation.

Sunshine Coast producer Adrian Schultz said fear of pollution was the last thing the industry needed.

"Our main concern is some kind of imitation event that could aggravate the situation," Schultz told AAP.

"It seems to be an isolated incident so far … it's the perception that people have that concern."

The police are investigating three cases of sewing needles embedded in strawberries.

With only a few weeks in the Queensland season, Schultz implored consumers to continue buying their products.

"We could finish the weekend," he said.

"I know that the farmers who are still on the way will appreciate the support of the public."

So far four contaminated baskets have been found, two in Queensland and two in Victoria.

The affected brands have been withdrawn from the sale.

Police have cast doubt on the theory of the Strawberry Grower Association of Queensland that a disgruntled farmer may be responsible.

Consumers are told to cut strawberries to make sure they are safe to eat and the police want anyone who finds a needle to contact them.