Strawberry sabotage prompts harsh new penalties in Australia

This crisis threatens strawberry farming industry worth more $116 million

This crisis threatens strawberry farming industry worth more $116 million

The first reported case of strawberry contamination sparked national fears last week.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the sanctions would not be applied retrospectively to those responsible for the existing strawberry saga.

An investigation is underway after a metal object was found inserted into a banana in a Coles supermarket in Queensland, the state Police Commissioner has confirmed. Queensland Police do not believe the banana incident is connected.

On Monday, a Kelmscott family said they found a needle inside a punnet of strawberries bought from their local Woolworths, just hours after WA Police revealed a similar case had been reported in York.

Officers say they have found more than 25 instances of fruit with needles concealed inside, across all six states of Australia.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered a federal investigation into the contamination. "This a vicious crime, it's created to injure, and possibly worse, members of the population at large", Hunt said.

On Monday Australian supermarket Aldi announced it was returning strawberries from brands unaffected by the contamination to shelves, while other supermarkets continued the removal of fresh fruit from shelves.

"We're not mucking about", said Morrison, after pieces of fruit were found to be contaminated with needles or pins.

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However, another reader, Matt Ericksen, took a screenshot of the exchange and sent the picture to the Chronicle. Redden claimed that while he understands how his comment could be viewed as racist, that was not his intention.

"This a vicious crime, it's created to injure, and possibly worse, members of the population at large", said Hunt, according to ABC.

So far there are no confirmed suspects or demands, he said, but that police are receiving information through Crime Stoppers and he encouraged anyone with information to come forward.

The contamination was first reported in Queensland, where the government is offering a $100,000 reward (almost $72,000 in US dollars) for information.

Announcing the fund in Parliament on Tuesday morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the past week had seen the Australian state of Queensland become the victim of an "ugly, calculated and despicable crime".

"This here is worth more than you could ever imagine and within three days we lost it all", Chheang wrote on Facebook, telling The Courier Mail the farm was forced to destroy the stock due to the recall. At the time, Queensland chief health officer Doctor Jeannette Young advised anyone who had purchased strawberries in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria to throw them out.

Reports of fruit contamination being investigated by police.

"I don't care if you've got a gripe with a company, I don't care whether you've got a gripe with your fellow worker, this is a very serious thing", he said.

Department of Health said West Australians should still buy locally grown strawberries but should cut them before eating.

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