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.
“To our current knowledge, two labels, Berry Licious and Berry Obsession, are the only affected lines.
“The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association are waiting on more information from Queensland Police on this matter and will update the Australian public as news becomes available to us.”
The alarm was raised after a Queensland man swallowed a strawberry with half a sewing needle inside.
Earlier on Wednesday, Queensland Police and Queensland Health held a press conference warning consumers to dispose or return Berry Licious and Berry Obsession punnets sold in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said anyone who had bought the brands of strawberries without signs of tampering should return them to the store or throw them away.
“While it is expected that berries picked early last week would now not be useable, many people freeze the fruit for later use,” she said.
“If you are in doubt, just throw them out.
“Any strawberries bought from 13 September are safe.
“Any strawberries that you are certain are not the brands Berry Licious and Berry Obsession, are safe.
“If you believe you have eaten a needle, we would recommend you speak to your doctor or call 13 HEALTH.
“I love strawberries, there is no reason to stop eating strawberries, we just need to be aware of this incident.”