Australian boy arrested for putting needles in strawberries

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Dozens of cases of strawberries containing needles have been reported in the last week, mostly in the northeastern state of Queensland and now in most other parts of the country.

"Berry Licious, Berry Obsession, Donnybrook, Oasis and Love Berry branded strawberries have been withdrawn from shelves as a precautionary measure", the spokeswoman said.

Officials, however, have said Australians should keep buying fruits and other produce.

Since then, needles or pins have been reported in strawberries in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

The attorney general, Christian Porter, said penalties already existed in section 380 of the commonwealth criminal code act relating to the contamination of goods, including food.

"Someone is trying to sabotage the industry but also in doing that, they are putting babies' and children's and families' lives at risk", said Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

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Lawmakers in Australia are considering new legislation to more harshly punish people for putting needles in fruit.

This included two incident reported to Tasmanian police after contaminated fruit was found in a Woolworths.

Queensland Police told national broadcaster ABC the contamination of the strawberries - usually sold in small plastic boxes called punnets - was done "obviously to injure somebody". They have been recalled.

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association vice president Adrian Schultz said the act of "commercial terrorism" has severely hurt the multimillion-dollar industry.

People found guilty of contaminating fruit in Australia will face up to 15 years imprisonment under tough new laws announced on Wednesday. It is believed to be an isolated incident.

The spiked pieces of fruit have sent at least one person to the hospital, a man who unknowingly swallowed half a sewing needle.

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Who is behind the sabotage?

Australian police said on Tuesday they had yet to identify a suspect or a motive. Police have suggested some of the newer cases may be copycat crimes.

Her government is offering a Aus$100,000 (US$71,500) reward for any information that leads to the capture and conviction of those responsible.

VideoDonnybrook Berries shared this video of thousands of berries being dumped on their farm, after sales plummet following needles being found in strawberries. There has also been suggestions of using metal detectors and tamper-proof packaging.

Authorities are continuing to liaise with retailers to ensure that all stock from the affected date have been removed from sale.

Coles also said it recommenced the supply of strawberries into its stores on Monday afternoon.

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It was announced on Monday both Foodstuff and Countdown - both owned by Woolworths and both controlling almost the entire New Zealand grocery market - had stopped sending out Australian strawberries to its stores.

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