Boy Arrested Over Australia's Needles In Strawberries Scare


Australia has been hit by fresh warnings that more brands of strawberries could be contaminated with sewing needles.

Offenders face up to 10 years in prison. That's what you get 10 years for.

That's the same penalty faced by those found guilty of financing terrorism or child pornography.

"That's how seriously I take this", Mr Morrison said.

Authorities are searching for more suspects as more than 100 reports of sabotaged fruit have poured in.

The new crimes will only require that the person was "reckless", rather than needing to prove an intention to cause damage.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association has suggested that the needles may have been placed inside the strawberries by a disgruntled employee, while other sources have claimed that some cases may be copycat incidents, but police said it is to early to speculate.

NSW detectives will meet on Monday to share information as they work to figure out the origin of the contamination.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said residents should throw out or return Berry Licious, Berry Obsession and Donnybrook-branded strawberries.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has offered a $100,000 reward.

On Monday, New Zealand's two largest food distributors - Countdown and Foodstuffs - said they had stopped importing Australian strawberries due to the scare.

The federal government pledged A$1m (£550,000; $720,000) to assist the strawberry industry, matching a commitment made by Queensland.

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"Whoever is behind this is not just putting families at risk across Queensland and the rest of Australia - they are putting an entire industry at risk", she said on Saturday.

Needles have been found in strawberries in all six states, with New Zealand announcing this week it would pull the Australian-grown fruit from its supermarket shelves.

Australia's parliament is considering passing new legislation to punish the crime more harshly.

Needles have been found in an apple and a banana, as well in over 20 containers of strawberries, police have said.

"The community is reminded that contaminating food is treated as a serious offence and a threat to public safety", a police spokesperson said.

"It's important that we actually come together and say "look this is not affecting us and we have a support for farmers".

No one has been charged in relation to the tampering. At the end of the day strawberries don't grow needles, someone's physically (putting them in).

"WE'RE in a predicament right now because how do you deal with this?"

He also said agencies are following a number of leads.

"It is not only a threat to the strawberry industry, it is a threat across the food production industry". State police departments are investigating.

TONNES of strawberries are being dumped or going to waste around the country as the needle contamination scare threatens the future of the half-a-billion-dollar industry.