A New Zealand supermarket chain has withdrawn Australian strawberries from its shelves after needles were found in a box of strawberries sold in an Auckland supermarket.
This incident comes after Australia saw over 100 reports of needles being found in strawberries sold in supermarkets in Australia over the last one week.
The Countdown supermarket chain in New Zealand said the strawberries sold by the brand Australian Choice, was being pulled off the shelves. “Customers can return any Choice brand of strawberries they may have at home to Countdown for peace of mind and a full refund,” the supermarket said in a statement.
However, the Australian Choice brand has not been recalled in Australia.
Countdown, which owns 181 supermarkets across New Zealand, has urged shoppers to cut up any strawberries already purchased. “As an extra precaution and following similar advice from public health authorities in Australia, customers should cut up any Australian strawberries before eating them,” it said.
It also said it was in contact with both Australian and New Zealand authorities investigating the matter.
Police in Australia suspect many of the reports of fruit contamination could be fake, or copycat contamination. A man in South Australia was due to face court on Monday as he has been charged with falsely claiming goods had been contaminated after he allegedly reported finding a needle in a strawberry his daughter was eating. Another 62-year-old woman was caught putting a needle into a banana in central Queensland, Australia in what is believed to have been a copycat act.
The BBC reports that Australian strawberry cultivators have had to dump tonnes of unwanted fruit. They fear the scare, which has come during the peak of production, will damage sales in an industry worth about AUS $130 million a year.