Sydney-bought strawberries contaminated with needles, NSW police confirm

Australians warned to cut up strawberries after people report finding needles inside

Australians have been warned to cut fresh strawberries before biting into them after several people found sewing needles hidden inside the fruit.

One Australian woman posted photos online showing the needles inside strawberries her 10-year-old son was eating.

Officers from the Sutherland Police Area Command were notified on Friday about the risky punnet of Delightful Strawberries, and seized it for their inquiries into what appears to be sabotage with a nationwide range.

New South Wales Police said the number of reported incidents has been increasing, with six brands believed to have been targeted: Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Love Berry, Donnybrook Berries, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis.

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"As the products have yet to be forensically examined, it is unknown if the contamination is related to the original Queensland incident or a copycat", NSW police said in a statement late Friday.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is said to have issued the reward over concerns for growers as well as consumers.

"As a precaution, Coles is also withdrawing all brands and sizes of Queensland grown strawberry punnets from sale in Coles supermarkets in all states [except Western Australia], in Coles Express stores and via Coles online". "These further instances are cases in which needles have been found within the strawberries and people have gone to eat them, have cut them up and found the needles".

"As with all farmers who produce food for our nation, strawberry growers strive to ensure the quality, security and freshness of their produce and these spiteful incidents have been extremely disheartening and troubling", the association said.

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Police believe it may be the work of a former employee.

Woolworths Group has removed all the affected brands from shelves in its supermarkets, but continues to sell other varieties of the fruit.

The customer handed the punnet in to Sutherland Area Police Command, where it will undergo forensic testing.

Consumers have been urged to chop up or throw out berries purchased in the past week as police seek a culprit.

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