The needle scare that affected Australia's fruit industry is now back to haunt New Zealand. The development comes after Queensland Police arrested a 50-year-old on November 11 over strawberry contamination. Earlier, a boy from New South Wales (NSW) was arrested after he admitted to causing the scare as a 'prank'.
In the latest case, New Zealand police confirmed the second incident of needle infested strawberry. A New Zealand police spokesperson said that the needle was found in a punnet sold in the small South Island town Geraldine this weekend. An AFP report stated that supermarket owner Garry Sheed said he had taken all strawberries off the shelf but did not want to comment if the fruit box was from Australia or New Zealand. Strawberry Needle Case in Australia: Queensland Police Arrests 50-Year-Old Woman in Connection With Fruit Contamination.
The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the person from Geraldine who found the needle was not harmed. A ministry spokesman was quoted as saying, "The matter has been referred to the police who are leading the criminal investigation. At this stage, MPI does not have any reason to believe this is more widespread than the single discovery. However, as a precautionary measure, the store has removed strawberries from shelves."
This is the second case of needle scare in New Zealand after the first one being reported in September. Following the scare, various big brands went off supermarket shelves in Australia and New Zealand. Farmers were the most affected as tonnes of strawberries were brought back and dumped on farmlands. Australian Prime minister Scott Morrison had condemned the act and extended support to farmers during the incident. However, the demand for strawberries went downhill as the needle scare continued.