Engadine strawberry contamination confirmed by police

A woman in Wingham posted pictures of strawberries with needles in them to Facebook, saying she purchased them at the local Coles. Picture: Chantal Faugeras - Facebook
A woman in Wingham posted pictures of strawberries with needles in them to Facebook, saying she purchased them at the local Coles. Picture: Chantal Faugeras - Facebook

A Coles customer has found pins in three pieces of fruit from a supermarket in Engadine

Officers from the Sutherland Police Area Command were notified on Friday about the dangerous punnet of Delightful-branded strawberries in Engadine, and seized it for their inquiries into what appears to be sabotage with nationwide range.

It is the fourth case of strawberry contamination in NSW.

A NSW Police spokesman said that in this instance, there were no injuries as a result of the contamination.

Other cases of strawberry contamination have so far been identified in NSW in Tweed Heads, Taree and Wingham, and in Queensland in Townsville, Everton Park and Redbank Plains.

There have also been two cases reported in Victoria.

As of Saturday afternoon, the number of nationally reported strawberry contamination cases stood at 11.

The NSW Police Force said it believed the contamination may affect up to six brands of strawberries: Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Love Berry, Donnybrook Berries, Oasis and Delightful.

Coles would not confirm or deny that it had ordered a recall of the affected brands, but the product listing for "strawberries prepacked" was marked as "temporarily unavailable" on its website on Saturday afternoon.

A statement from Woolworths said that Oasis and Love Berry strawberries were pulled from shelves across Australia between Friday and Saturday, Donnybrook Berries were withdrawn on Friday, and Berry Obsession and Berry Licious strawberries were taken down on Wednesday.

A contaminated strawberry found last Wednesday night. Picture: Angela Stevenson

A contaminated strawberry found last Wednesday night. Picture: Angela Stevenson

Woolworths does not stock Delightful-branded strawberries. It said that customers who still have any of the other potentially-contaminated brands should return their products to their local Woolworths for a full refund.

The latest-reported Sydney case comes just hours after the Queensland State Government announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a person responsible for the contamination of strawberries using needles and pins.

"Whoever is behind this is not just putting families at risk across Queensland and the rest of Australia – they are putting an entire industry at risk,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

"How could any right-minded person want to put a baby or a child or anybody's health at risk by doing such a dreadful act?

"I would urge anyone with information that may be relevant to this incident in any way to contact police as soon as possible."

Queensland supplies the winter production of strawberries for Australia, with the season running from May to October, with some contribution to summer production from the Stanthorpe region.

The near-national contamination is believed to have been initiated in farms in the state's south-east, close to where Donnybrook, Berry Licious and Berry Obsession strawberries were being produced.

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association industry development officer Jennifer Rowling claimed on Wednesday night that a "disgruntled ex-employee" could be responsible for the contamination.