Published: Mon, November 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Woman (50) is charged over needles in fruit scare

Woman (50) is charged over needles in fruit scare

A "complex" investigation into an Australian strawberry scare where needles were found stuck into strawberries, has led to the arrest of the 50-year-old woman after the incident sparked nationwide panic.

Queensland Health officials issued a safety warning on September 12 after the discovery of needles hidden inside a punnet of strawberries.

Superintendent Wacker said there were 186 reports of sewing needles being found, 77 of which were in Queensland.

Earlier on Monday, Detective John Walker said the investigation had been unique in that it involved nearly every state and jurisdiction in the country.

The Caboolture woman will face court after being charged over the strawberry contamination crisis.

She has not said whether she will fight the charges against her.

The woman, whose identity has not yet been released by police, faces seven counts of contamination of goods, according to a statement released by the Queensland Police Service.

While no injuries were reported from the needles, the crisis escalated to six states and neighbouring New Zealand.

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Earlier, police spoke of the challenges investigators faced as they tried to figure out the source of the contamination. She would not consider granting bail for the woman until the reasons for her actions became clearer.

The first incident was reported in September when a man in Brisbane was hospitalised after swallowing half a needle and complaining of severe abdominal pains.

Queensland's strawberry industry collapsed during the industry's growing season, with thousands of strawberries dumped as supermarkets and shops pulled the fruit from shelves. Each count against her carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

The strawberry industry, worth A$160 million ($116 million), was rocked in September following almost 200 complaints of sewing needles found in strawberries and other fruits.

"We reached out to our counterparts throughout Queensland and Australia, and as I said, it's 231 reports Australia-wide, so a fairly unique investigation impacting virtually every state and jurisdiction in Australia".

Trinh was remanded in custody until November 22.

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association vice president Adrian Schultz thanked police for their work.

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