Police are investigating after a Perth woman claims to have made a frightening discovery in a bag of Coles coleslaw mix which she says had the potential to be "lethal".
Mum-of-two Helen Paton picked up the $2 bag of salad at the Claremont Quarter Coles in Perth's western suburbs and was shocked to supposedly find a "very large rusted needle" inside it.
Ms Paton told Seven News she had a mouthful of the salad and first thought she'd bitten into "a stick of chopped coleslaw". But she quickly realised it was a "piece of metal", she claimed, before pulling it from her mouth.
"I didn’t chew it, I didn’t cut myself, so I wasn’t injured, I was just shocked that it was there," she said.
Ms Paton contacted the supermarket immediately to inform them of the find after purchasing the bag on Monday. A Coles customer care consultant responded on Tuesday and apologised, Seven News reported.
"We are very concerned to hear this and we would like to extend our apologies," they reportedly said.
Police investigating Coles incident
It's understood there have been no further reports of contamination beyond this incident. Sealed packs of products, such as this, are metal detected before leaving the site where it's manufactured.
"We take contamination of products seriously and are working directly with the police," a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia, confirming officers are now investigating the incident.
The Food Safety Information Council said physical hazards in fresh food items are extremely rare due to screening and management practices, with metal contaminants rarer still.
While she wasn't injured, Ms Paton is concerned for the safety of others and thinks Coles should consider recalling the product. "Someone could have impaled their mouth, they could have swallowed it," she said. "I think it’s quite a lethal potential."
Strawberry spiking saga
In 2018, hundreds of Aussies encountered a similar scenario with strawberries after it was revealed someone had deliberately hidden sewing needles inside them. The needles were first discovered in September of that year when a man was hospitalised after biting into a contaminated price of fruit, prompting a national food safety crisis.
In November of that year, a 50-year-old woman was charged with goods contamination after multiple Queensland strawberry farms were targeted, but they were later dropped. But strawberries across other Australian states were affected too in a series of "copycat" pranks.
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