Australia has been hit by fresh warnings that more brands of strawberries could be contaminated with sewing needles.
Police have said that six brands of strawberries in Australia are believed to be contaminated with needles and pins, prompting warnings from authorities to slice the fruit before eating.
Initially, it was thought just Berry Licious and Berry Obsession strawberries were affected, after Queensland Police and Queensland Health warned members of the public on Wednesday.
However, NSW Police have now said that the contamination might have affected four more brands: Love Berry, Donnybrook Berries, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis.
The six brands are believed to be sold in stores in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory, police said.
Authorities are continuing to liaise with retailers to ensure that all stock from the affected date have been removed from sale.
However, police are urging anyone who finds a contaminated punnet to report it immediately and anyone using any of the impacted brands to cut up the strawberries before eating them.
Strawberry prices have dropped around the country. ABC News reported on Saturday that wholesale prices have halved to A$0.50 per punnet below the cost of production in Western Australia.
Queensland police have issued a $100,000 reward for information.
‘Disgruntled former employee’ behind contamination
The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association suspects a disgruntled ex-employee may be responsible for placing sewing needles into strawberries sold in Woolworths.
In a statement released on Wednesday night, the association said it had “reason to suspect” it was a former employee and was waiting on more information from Queensland Police.
“At this time, the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, wherein sewing needles were found in a number of strawberries in Queensland and Victoria,” the statement reads.