Australia's Queensland on the hunt for strawberry saboteurs using needles

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It's a crime so unusual that any motive seems almost inconceivable.

Officials said it is still safe to buy strawberries but consumers should cut them up before eating them.

The needles were discovered in three strawberries in a single punnet, which a customer had bought from Coles in Engadine in Sydney's south.

Australians have also been warned to cut strawberries before eating them.

Reports out of three Aussie states have strawberry lovers checking their fresh fruit carefully.

The Australian state of Queensland on Saturday (Sept 15) offered a A$100,000 (S$98,450) reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for sabotaging strawberries with sewing needles. "It is simply unacceptable".

An urgent recall was originally issued on Wednesday following the discovery of needles planted inside the fruit, with Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young advising anyone who has purchased strawberries from the Berry Liscious and Berry Obsession brands to dispose of their fruit immediately. "I am furious about this".

NSW Police and Queensland Police are investigating whether the latest needles found in strawberries are the work of a copycat, or related to the original incidents. "If you stop picking them for a few days then they stop producing fruit, so we're trying to weather out this storm and hope that things get better, but to do that it's costing".

"Police are urging anyone who finds strawberry punnets containing foreign objects to contact the police in their home state", the Coles spokesperson said. A number of grocers have removed the berries from their shelves.

Jennifer Rowling of the Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association said she believed the strawberries had been "interfered with".

'This is food terrorism that is bringing an industry to its knees, ' Strawberries Australia Inc Queensland spokesman Ray Daniels said.

"How could any right-minded person want to put a baby or a child or anybody's health at risk by doing such a awful act?" she asked.

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