'We could be finished': Strawberry sabotage devastates growers

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Police began looking into the potentially unsafe berries after a Facebook user on Saturday wrote that their friend took a bite of a strawberry and ate "half a sewing needle", according to the Palm Beach Post.

The warnings came after a contaminated punnet was reported by Joshua Gane, who wrote in a Facebook post that a 21-year-old friend had suffered "severe abdominal pain".

Donnybrook supplies Coles and Woolworths stores across Australia.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said anyone else who had bought the brands of strawberries without signs of tampering should return them to the store or throw them away.

Police have released a photo in relation to the suspected copycat incident and continue to investigate it.

Acting Queensland Chief Superintendent of the State Crime Command Terry Lawrence said the evidence indicates the act was "obviously" meant to injure others.

"We are now working with retailers nationwide to ensure that all Donnybrook stock is removed from sale", Dr Young said.

While the needles found in the initial attack had been inserted inside the fruit, the latest punnet had a metal rod placed inside the punnet, which had been purchased by a staff member on Thursday morning. "We'd be lucky at the moment to get between $3-4 a kilo", Mr Schultz said last month.

Adrian Schultz, vice president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, told ABC it was a tough time for farmers even before this week's fears emerged.

It's unclear if the Delightful Strawberries brand comes from the same farm or a different region.

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He said police are "comfortable" that the issue with the "Berry Obsession" and "Berrylicious" brands had now been resolved, having been taken off the market.

"At this time [we] have reason to suspect a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, wherein sewing needles were found in a number of strawberries in Queensland and Victoria", the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association said in a statement.

The complaint spurred an investigation from Queensland authorities, after it was revealed the two contaminated brands were sold in stores in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.

ANOTHER case of needles in strawberries has come to light after a woman bought punnets from Wingham Coles in New South Wales. "We're keeping a very open mind as to where this may have occurred".

"We want everybody to check their strawberries before consuming them ... just cut them up, have a look", Supt Lawrence said.

"For other brands, our advice is all strawberries should be cut up before they are eaten", Young said.

Authorities said on September 13 that they believe that they had mitigated enough risk for customers to buy strawberries again, as all stock had been replaced.

But the bottom line is: If in doubt, throw them out.

Anyone with information has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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