Culture

Watch This Video Of Tonnes Of Strawberries Being Dumped After More Needles Found In Fruit

Police are on the hunt for whoever keeps sticking needles in fruit.

Yesterday, a video emerged of Donnybrook Berries dumbing tonnes of fresh strawberries, after reports came in that small needles were being found in strawberries across the country.

Since the video was posted, police have confirmed that they are looking at at least 20 cases of needles being found in fruit — both strawberries, and now one apple incident and one banana incident.

Questions still remain: who put the needles in those strawberries, and why? How many of these needles came from the original incident, and how many came from copy cat incidents, or even self-contamination? And how do we respond to ensure that we don’t waste tonnes of fruit and put at risk jobs and livelihoods?

What’s Happened?

Strawberries with needles in them have been found all across Australia. There have been eight incidents in NSW, six in Victoria, four in Queensland and Western Australia, three in South Australia and just the one in Tasmania.

The first incident came out of Brisbane last week. 21-year-old tradie Hoani Hearne swallowed a needle that had been embedded in a strawberry.

One of the tricky issues surrounding the contamination is the number of false flags. This morning, a child at a Brisbane school said he found a needle in a strawberry, only for police to later say that this was a “false report”. In Mackay yesterday, a 62-year-old woman was seen putting a needle into a banana.

The strawberry brands caught up in the saga include Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Love Berry, Delightful, Oasis, and of course Donnybrook, the publisher of the video above.

In response to the first reports of needles in strawberries, supermarkets began removing the fruit from their shelves. Coles removed all their strawberries (and has since starting selling them again), while Woolworths and Aldi pulled specific brands.

New Zealand’s big supermarkets all halted importation of Australian strawberries yesterday, including Foodstuffs, and Countdown.

Police, growers and supermarkets are all using metal detectors to check the strawberries they are selling.

Do The Police Know Who’s Done This, And Why?

The authorities are investigating, but they’re not sure yet who has caused these contaminations. Queensland Health, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and the Australian Border Force are teaming up in an attempt to figure out who contaminate the strawberries.

Authorities do think that this was a deliberate sabotage, though. And they’re warning that those who committed the crime — and those who are committing copy cat crimes — could face 10 years in prison for food contamination crimes.

“The motive appears unclear. I mean who puts needles in strawberries knowing it goes to kids and families?” Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said today.

“The consequences are dire, it’s a hazardous action that’s happening by whoever’s perpetrating it. Really at the end of the day it’s an act of treachery to the people of Australia and across the country.”

And politicians are urging Australian citizens to keep supporting the strawberry industry through the scare.

“While these isolated incidents are being investigated I encourage people to continue to support the Australian strawberry industry, which is valued at over half a billion dollars and employs thousands of Australians,” said Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie.

Other politicians took to social media to support the strawberry industry:

$100,000 is on offer for information that leads to the arrest of a perpetrator.