Australian police say sewing needles have been found hidden in an apple and a banana, amid a nationwide scare that has tormented the strawberry industry.
Since last week, Australians in every state have reported finding needles concealed in strawberry punnets. Health Minister Greg Hunt has called it a “vicious crime” and ordered the nation’s food watchdog to assist in resolving the scare.
Police said the apple and banana cases, both in Sydney, were “isolated, but they added to more than 20 scares involving strawberries in New South Wales alone.
The first cases emerged in Queensland. In that state, authorities say they are investigating whether the sabotage is due to one person, or several people operating independently.
In the most serious case, a man was taken to hospital last week after eating a strawberry that contained a needle.
Australian Police have stepped up warnings about copycat incidents, saying perpetrators – and those who make false reports – face up to 10 years in jail.