A needle has been found inside a strawberry in South Australia, making it the fifth Australian state and territory to be implicated in the ongoing fruit sabotage saga.
A customer made the discovery while eating fruit from a punnet of Mal’s Black Label strawberries on Sunday, South Australia Police say.
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.
It comes after Health Minister Greg Hunt ordered the national food safety watchdog to assess the states’ handling of strawberry contamination.
Police are investigating claims that needle sabotage has now spread to six brands of strawberries across five states.
Coles and Aldi supermarkets have pulled all strawberries from their shelves across the country, except Western Australia, as a precaution over needle contamination fears.
Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Donnybrook Berries branded fruit have recalled their strawberries nationwide.
Police are also investigating contamination of fruit sold by Delightful Strawberries, Love Berries and Oasis in stores in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, and the ACT.
“This is a very vicious crime and it’s a general attack on the public, and it’s also an attack on a specific industry,” he told reporters on Sunday.
Mr Hunt said while it was primarily a problem for the states, he had asked his department to request Food Standards Australia New Zealand make an “immediate appraisal” of the situation.