Needles Keep Appearing in Australian Strawberries

#SmashAStrawb aims to support local growers amid investigation
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2018 9:25 AM CDT
Needles Keep Appearing in Australian Strawberries
Empty shelves, normally stocked with strawberries, are seen at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane on Friday.   (Dan Peled/AAP Image via AP)

Australia's "Smash a Strawberry" campaign can be easily misinterpreted if one isn't up to date on Australian slang. Here, "smash" refers to devouring a strawberry, rather than turning it into mush. Some might prefer to do the latter, however, after at least 100 reported cases of needles found in fruit. While many cases are believed to be hoaxes or copycat events stemming from original cases in Queensland, sewing needles and pins have been found in strawberries from various brands in all six Australian states, while two other cases involve an apple and banana, reports CNN. Fearing the effects on the country's multimillion-dollar fruit industry as supermarkets pull strawberries from shelves—one grower describes dumping $35,000 worth of fruit per day, per the Telegraph—politicians are encouraging Australians to #SmashAStrawb in support.

"Get behind our local industry. Slice them in half and #SmashAStrawb to help out our local growers today," Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan tweeted Tuesday. Another politician published his family's secret strawberry jam recipe, per CNN. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced the maximum prison sentence for food tampering would be raised from 10 to 15 years. Though there are no reports of serious injuries, "it's not a joke, it's not funny, you're putting the livelihoods of hard-working Australians at risk and you're scaring children," he said. As international strawberry exports undergo X-ray scans, three states are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to culprits' convictions, per ABC Australia. CTV News reports there's been one arrest: a young boy in New South Wales, who cops say he admitted to placing needles in some of the cases as a "prank." (More Australia stories.)

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