Australia’s strawberry scare spreads as needles found in New Zealand


The widespread concern over needles found in tampered boxes of strawberries across Australia has spread to New Zealand.

The needles were found in a sample of Choice brand strawberries sold at a Countdown supermarket in Auckland.

Countdown last week announced it had halted imports of Australia strawberries to NZ for the season while competitor Foodstuffs ceased shipping them to its stores.

It has been almost a week since the first needle was found in a punnet of strawberries bought in Queensland.

A major New Zealand supermarket chain is removing Australian-brand Choice strawberries from shelves across the country after needles were found in a container of strawberries from Western Australia purchased in Auckland.

The person who reported the incident was not harmed as the needles were found before anyone had eaten them, police confirmed.

A Queensland man posted this photo of a strawberry with a needle on Monday.

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There have been no reports of any illness or injury related to the strawberries in New Zealand.

The company urged NZ residents to cut up strawberries before eating them, echoing similar advice in Australia.

Australian strawberries are exported to NZ from April to September and local strawberries began appearing on shelves this week in their place.

Police are taking this report seriously and are investigating with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Most are thought to be pranks or jokes on social media, but at least two minors have been questioned by police for carrying out hoaxes.

"I'm hoping no New Zealander would be such an idiot", he said, according to the New Zealand Herald newspaper, adding that food safety regulators were conducting a "thorough inquiry".

Countdown Supermarket said that the brand had been removed from their stores and encouraged the public to return them to their stores for a full refund.