UPDATED ALERT: Strawberry contamination
UPDATED: 6:30pm, 21 September 2018
The NSW Police Force are warning the public of the serious penalties associated with deliberate fruit contamination as investigations continue into the insertion of sewing needles into strawberries.
An investigation, which is now being led by Queensland Health, was launched on Wednesday 12 September 2018 to investigate reports of contaminated strawberries supplied from Queensland.
Inquiries to date indicate the contamination affects three brands of strawberries – “Berry Obsession”, “Berry Licious” and “Donnybrook” – which were sold across Australia, including NSW. These three brands have since been recalled.*
While police have received reports of potential contamination impacting other strawberry brands, consumers are advised they are believed to be safe to eat, but, to be sure cut the fruit before consuming.
So far, NSW Police Force has received more than 20 reports of contaminated strawberries, which have been seized for forensic examination.
Police are urging anyone who has purchased contaminated product to take the punnet to their local police station immediately for triage and forensic examination.
If any member of the community is concerned about the integrity of the product they’ve purchased, it may be returned to the point of sale.
All relevant information is being collated in each state and provided to Queensland authorities to assist with their ongoing investigation.
Police have also received reports of contamination of other types of fruit, including a banana and an apple, which are being treated as isolated incidents.
The community is reminded that deliberately contaminating food is a criminal offence and a threat to public safety. In NSW, the maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years imprisonment.
You can access a NSW Police Force update here.
*Correction: Donnybrook brands are recalled, Berry Obsession and Berrylicious brands are withdrawn from sale. Oasis, Delightful Strawberries and Love Berry brands are not implicated in the strawberry contamination incident and have not been withdrawn from sale. These brands were previously named in a NSW media release.