A Melbourne shopper who bought strawberries from a Coles supermarket narrowly avoided serious injury after she bit into the fruit used on top of her birthday cake.
David Chapman said his stepdaughter, Skye, bit into the strawberry with a needle in it on Sunday as she was celebrating her 30th birthday, according to Nine News.
“(She) bit right into it and a big needle sticking out of it, pretty much the whole length of the strawberry,” he told 3AW radio.
Skye pulled the needle out of her mouth, but it felt like something was stuck in her throat so went to hospital where she underwent an X-ray.
Results revealed that whatever was lodged in her throat was not a needle and would eventually pass.
A Coles spokeswoman said a store representative had spoken to the customer “to follow up their complaint” after the problem fruit was purchased from the supermarket giant’s Eltham business.
“We have worked with our strawberry suppliers to implement additional control measures to ensure strawberries are inspected before they are sent to supermarkets,” the spokesperson said.
“We have notified the police and will follow up with our supplier to investigate the matter.”
The contaminated strawberry was one of two reportedly found after being purchased in Melbourne shops in the past month.
A needle was also found in a strawberry bought at a Fairfield store on August 25 which was reported to police on September 10, sparking a police investigation.
The Fairfield retailer has not been revealed.
“The community is reminded that anyone found to be contaminating food products can be charged with a serious indictable offence with penalties including up to 10 years in jail,” Victoria Police said in a statement.
Last year Australian strawberry growers were rocked as police across the country investigated more than 100 reports of fruit being contaminated with needles and other objects.
Many of the reports were found to be fake or copycat incidents, but the scare prompted the federal government to rush through tougher penalties for so-called “food terrorists”.
It caused an eight per cent produce loss to the industry, worth about $12 million.
The industry also received a $1 million relief package, including $350,000 to invest in tamper-proof containers, marketing and training.
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