Strawberry needle scare: What you need to know, and what to do if it happens to you
This needle was pulled out a strawberry found in Queensland’s Gladstone. (Facebook: Angela Stevenson)
Love them or hate them, strawberries are everywhere at the moment, but not for the right reasons.
An investigation is underway as more and more punnets of strawberries are discovered with needles found embedded in them.
This is what you need to know, and perhaps more importantly, what to do if it happens to you:
What’s going on with the strawberries?
In case you missed the news, there have been seven confirmed cases now of strawberries with needles found in them.
Police said they believed another case to be a copycat — a small silver rod was found sitting on top of strawberries in a punnet purchased at a Coles in Gatton.
There are other reports out there, but they’re still being chased up.
Has anyone been hurt?
Burpengary man Hoani Hearne was treated in hospital after eating a strawberry with a needle inside.
In Queensland’s Gladstone, a 9-year-old boy bit into a strawberry with a needle in it, but thankfully wasn’t pricked.
This needle was pulled out of a strawberry purchased at a Woolworths in central Queensland. (Facebook: Angela Stevenson)
What brands have been affected?
Berry Licious and Berry Obsession were the first cases reported on Wednesday. They’d been purchased the week prior.
On Friday, Queensland Health announced strawberries from Donnybrook farms, north of Brisbane, were being pulled from supermarket shelves after three incidents — two on Thursday, and one on Friday.
Where are these strawberries being sold?
The first reported cases of contaminated strawberries were sold at Woolworths supermarkets in Queensland, NSW, and Victoria.
However, the Donnybrook farm strawberries are sold broadly across the country, in both Coles and Woolworths.
Where have people found needles in their strawberries?
Affected punnets were purchased in:
- Queensland: Strathpine, Everton Park, Redbank Plains, Gladstone, and the copycat incident reported in Gatton
- NSW: Tweed Heads
- Victoria: Two confirmed cases, but locations are unknown
Can I still buy and eat strawberries?
Yes, Queensland Health encourages it.
But Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said just be ultra-cautious before eating them, no matter where you buy them from.
“Strawberries are a great fruit, a great product to eat. But at this stage, please cut them up and just look to make sure they haven’t been contaminated,” Dr Young said.
But the bottom line is: If in doubt, throw them out.
I’ve purchased strawberries but don’t know where they came from. What should I do?
Take them back for a refund.
Earlier this week, Woolworths said anyone who’d purchased any of the affected brands could return them to their local store for a full refund.
Queensland Health recommends everyone continue to eat strawberries, but cut them up before consumption. (Facebook: Joshua Gane)
What do I do if I find a needle in my strawberries?
Call the police.
In Queensland and NSW, call 131 444
In Victoria, contact your local police station via phone or in person to report non-emergency crime incidents.
“You’ll be given guidance and advice on what to do with those before police come and collect them.”
Queensland Police Service’s Detective Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence encouraged anyone with information that could help the investigation to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.