23 Sep 2018

Needles found in Auckland supermarket strawberries

6:38 pm on 23 September 2018

Needles have been found in a punnet of strawberries bought in an Auckland supermarket.

Fresh strawberry at market in plastic boxes.

Photo: 123rf.com

In a statement Countdown said it had taken all stock of the Choice brand of strawberries off its shelves while it investigates.

About a week ago Woolworths NZ, which is the parent company of Countdown, said it was halting the distribution of Australian strawberries.

"Needles were found in a punnet of strawberries sourced from Western Australia, which was bought in a Countdown supermarket in Auckland. The Choice brand of strawberries was sold nation-wide last week," the statement said.

The supermarket chain also operates the FreshChoice and SuperValue supermarkets.

The Choice brand of strawberry was imported from Western Australia.

Countdown is advising customers to cut up strawberries before consuming them, or to return them for a refund.

Countdown would continue to stock New Zealand strawberries.

"There have been no reports of any illness or injury in New Zealand. The strawberries affected by this withdrawal have not previously had any issues of this nature reported and had not been withdrawn from sale in Australia," the statement said.

Last week, police across Australia were investigating more than 100 reports of contaminated fruit, many of which are believed to be hoaxes and copycat incidents.

Contaminated strawberries were found across five states with the West Australian government offering a $100,000 reward for information.

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton last week said that new laws were needed to dissuade any copycat offenders, including increasing the maximum jail time for contaminating food from 10 10 15 years.

The government is also going to introduce a new offence of recklessly contaminating fruit, which will carry a similar jail time.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said laws would be drafted with the intent to pass them through Parliament this week.


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