Sabotaged strawberries recalled across East Coast

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Punnets of strawberries sabotaged with sewing needles have been recalled to protect consumers after a Queensland man was hospitalised.

The affected brands are Berry Obsession and Berrylicious strawberries bought in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. The recall was issued yesterday.

‘Swallows half a sewing needle’

Queenslander Hoani Hearne, 21, found a sewing needle stuck in a strawberry he was eating on a car journey. He’d bought the punnet on Sunday from Strathpine Centre Woolworths, about 20km north of Brisbane.

His friend Joshua Gane then posted a photo on Facebook of the strawberry with a needle in it.

“Driving up to the coast when Hoani Hearne bites through a strawberry and swallows half a sewing needle,” Mr Gane said.

“We then checked the other strawberries and found another sewing needle lodged inside one of them.

“We are now at the emergency room because he subsequently started experiencing severe abdominal pain.”

So far, consumers have found three punnets of strawberries with sewing needles hidden inside. One was Mr Hearne in Queensland. The other two were in Yarram and Sebastopol in Victoria.

Made in Queensland?

According to some reports, all the punnets come from a farm in south-east Queensland.

Queensland Health yesterday issued a warning to the public.

“I’m out here today to advise people if they’ve bought any strawberries in Queensland, NSW or Victoria since early last week, that they should dispose of them,” Queensland Health Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said.

“If someone were to swallow a sewing needle, it could get caught up in their gut.”

Woolworths withdraws strawberries

A Woolworths spokesperson said the supermarket took “food safety very seriously” and was investigating the matter with authorities.

“We have withdrawn Berry Obsession and Berry Luscious branded strawberries from sale while this incident is being investigated with our suppliers,” the spokesperson said.

“Customers are advised to return these products to their local Woolworths for a full refund.”

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association has suggested that a disgruntled farm worker may have planted the needles. But Queensland police have so far refused to speculate.