In a scary story that has dominated the news cycle this week, needles have been turning up in fruit sold at some of Australia's biggest supermarkets. The needles were first found in strawberries, with further findings in a banana and an apple this week sending a wave of hysteria through the East coast in particular, as consumer and farmers alike begin to panic. Already suffering as a result of the drought, farmers are feeling the pinch as the public turn down fruit in droves out of fear of ingesting a needle.
On Tuesday NSW Police confirmed that in addition to needles being discovered in over 20 punnets of strawberries across the state, needles had also been found in a banana and an apple in Sydney. Unfortunately the needles were found at different locations, making the case even harder for detectives to solve. It's now unclear whether the original cases are linked or if these new findings are the result of copy-cat criminals. Either way, the consequences are severe, and detectives have issues stern warnings to the perpetrators.
"The consequences are dire, it is a hazardous action and really it's an act of treachery against the community of NSW and the nation," Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said on Tuesday. "You are still causing alarm and anxiety to the public, you are causing economic loss to an industry, you are creating hysteria and making it a perilous adventure just to go and buy some fruit at a supermarket and feed your family."
So far needles have been found in strawberries in every state in Australia, with other contaminated fruits isolated to NSW stores, with the latest needle found in an apple at a Woolworths in Sydney's north. The discoveries have resulted in the recall and destruction of millions of strawberries nationwide that have been deemed 'unsellable', and the pulling of Australian fruit from supermarket shelves internationally.
So how can fruit-lovers continue to enjoy their favourite foods? While the health warning is in place, the official advice from the authorities is for those in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia to cut up your strawberries before eating them, or throw them out.