Australia strawberry needles scare widens as federal probe is launched

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Earlier on Sunday, a customer in South Australia made the discovery while eating fruit from a punnet of Mal's Black Label strawberries, South Australia Police say.

Australian police are continuing their manhunt for the country's infamous strawberry saboteur as needle-contamination fears spread across the country, bringing the fruit industry to its knees.

"So far, NSW Police Force has received reports of contaminated strawberries purchased at supermarkets at Tweed Heads, Taree, and Wingham", the Force said in a statement.

"I'm angry for all the associated people, it's the farmers, the people who supply them, the packaging people, the truckies with families to support, who suddenly lose their's far-reaching", Queensland Strawberry Growers Association vice president Adrian Schultz told the AP.

Contaminated strawberries have been found in all of Australia's mainland states.

Strawberry prices have dropped around the country.

Queensland Health would not comment on which store the strawberries were located in.

People across Australia have been finding small sewing needles hidden inside their store-bought strawberries.

Six brands - Berry Licious, Berry Obsession, Donnybrook, Oasis, Love Berry and Delightful Strawberries - have been recalled nationally as fresh cases of needles found in strawberries were reported in Western Australia and South Australia at the weekend.

At least six brands of strawberries have been affected.

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The Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association has speculated the act may have been carried out by a "disgruntled ex-employee", according to the BBC.

His decision comes as the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced the state government would spend $1m to look at ways to boost integrity in the supply chain and help growers through the rest of the season.

However, police confirmed that the woman had mental health issues and said they were treating the act as an isolated incident, with no connection to any other food contamination investigations.

The Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has also ordered the food safety watchdog to investigate Queensland's handling of the strawberry spiking saga.

Several supermarket chains in Australia and New Zealand are also pulling strawberries off the shelves, according to Australian media.

The punnet was bought from Klose's Foodland Supermarket in Littlehampton on Saturday with the independent grocery retailer pulling the strawberries from all its shelves.

"This is a serious criminal offence that these people are engaged in, and I think every West Australian will want the book thrown at these people". We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

"All reports of contaminations are being fully investigated, but no other brands are being withdrawn at this time", Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said. "Just phoned the school after a friend had warned me & the office ladies are straight onto it thank god", another said.

He said other growers were being forced to do the same, with others cutting back on staff in the wake of the nationwide strawberry contamination.