Australia’s strawberry scare spreads as needles found in New Zealand

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It also said it was in contact with both Australian and New Zealand authorities investigating the matter.

A New Zealand supermarket has issued a statement that needles have been found in a punnet of strawberries sourced from Western Australia at one of its outlets, according to local media reports on Sunday (Sep 23).

The supermarket chain said there have so far been no illnesses reported from consuming the brand of strawberries.

Foodstuffs, which operates Four Square, New World and Pak'nSave, said last week that it would halt the distribution of Australian strawberries in New Zealand.

The needles were found in a sample of Choice brand strawberries sold at a Countdown supermarket in Auckland.

"Customers can return any Choice brand of strawberries they may have at home to Countdown for peace of mind and a full refund".

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A customer at its Auckland store purchased a punnet of Choice brand strawberries, grown in Western Australia, and discovered needles in the fruit.

The first case of needles in strawberries was in Queensland, where authorities are now leading a nationwide manhunt.

Woolworths Australia, Countdown's parent company, has withdrawn needles from sale as a "precautionary step" as police hunt for the original culprit amid a spate of copycat episodes.

After an initial drop in sales and thousands of tonnes of fresh strawberries destroyed or dumped by producers after ongoing recalls, many farms in Queensland and WA reported customers turning up to the farm gate to hand-pick their own strawberries.

The Australian government last week raised the maximum prison sentence for fruit tampering from 10 to 15 years, and there is a reward of A$100,000 (£55,000; $72,000) for anyone able to offer information.

A contaminated strawberry found in Australia earlier this month.

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