Australians told to chop strawberries as police investigate needles found in fruit

Australians have been warned to cut open fresh strawberries before biting into them after multiple customers reported finding sewing needles hidden inside.

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Contaminated punnets have been found across the country, in supermarkets in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

One man has been taken to hospital after swallowing fragments and a nine-year-old boy reportedly found a needle while eating a strawberry, but did not swallow it.

Three more punnets  were  found contaminated with needles  on Friday, according to ABC Australia.

Punnets supplied by three brands have been recalled from supermarket shelves although New South Wales Police said they believed a further three brands may be affected.

“Police are urging anyone who has purchased contaminated product to take the punnet to their local police station immediately for triage and forensic examination,” the force said in a statement.

“Any customer who has purchased strawberries of the potentially impacted brands is urged to cut the fruit before consuming.”

Empty shelves, normally stocked with strawberry punnets, are seen at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane, AustraliaCredit:
Dan Peled/AAP via REUTERS 

Officers added that they could not be sure the contamination was the work of a single culprit or copycats.

The alarm was first raised on Sunday when 21-year-old  Hoani Hearne bit into a strawberry and swallowed part of a needle.

Since then a string of consumers has reported finding pins, needles or short metal rods in punnets.

Angela Stevenson told 9 News that her nine-year-old son, nine, ended up with a needle in his mouth after taking strawberries to school. Minutes earlier she said been chopping the fruit to feed to her 12-month-old baby when she found another one.

"It’s horrible. It’s sick," she said.

Police have declined to speculate about possible motive.