Needles Found Hidden in Strawberries in Australia Frighten Locals

Australians are on high alert after needles have been found hidden in several varieties of pre-packaged strawberries across the country.

While this sounds like a nightmare scenario only feasible in Mad Libs, the threat is very real, and thus far several people have bitten into the tainted and potentially dangerous fruits, including a 7-year-old girl. The needles have been discovered in several strawberry brands and found across all six states, making it difficult for authorities to locate the person or people responsible, and police suspect copycats have increased the risk.

Though the police in Queensland State urged strawberry eaters via a Facebook post to “cut [the strawberries] up and have a look” before taking a bite, many people have stopped eating the fruits altogether and supermarkets have pulled them from the shelves. At least six brands have recalled their berries.

In addition to the aforementioned young girl, the New York Times reports a man in Western Australia discovered a needle in a strawberry when he cut into it on Monday, September 17, and earlier this month a 21-year-old Queensland man named Hoani Hearne had to be hospitalized after swallowing a portion of a sewing needle.

“It wasn’t a pleasant surprise,” Hearne later told a local outlet.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association apparently believes a disgruntled former employee was behind the initial string of attacks, but now additional fruits appear to have been compromised.

On September 17, police in Queensland revealed a 62-year-old woman had penetrated a banana with a metal object, but they believe her actions weren’t connected to the earlier attacks. However, the following day a woman in Sydney found a needle in a Pink Lady apple purchased from a Woolworths supermarket, according to local news media.

Per the Times, Australia’s health minister, Greg Hunt, has ordered a federal investigation into the tainted strawberries. Similarly, the Queensland government has offered a reward of 100,000 Australian dollars — approximately $72,000 — in the search for a culprit.

As Ian Stewart — commissioner of the Queensland Police Service — told reporters, “Sadly, three are those in the community who perhaps don’t understand the harm that they’re doing, and the potential for serious injury or loss of life to someone who might accidentally eat one of these fruits.”

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