Needles found in New Zealand strawberries

New Zealand supermarket withdraws Australian strawberry brand over needles

Australian strawberries pulled from New Zealand shelves after needles found

A major New Zealand supermarket chain has pulled a brand of Australian strawberries off its shelves after needles were found in a punnet sourced from Western Australia.

Needles, first found in strawberries produced by one supplier in the northern state of Queensland, are now turning up around the country in the berries and other fruits.

Customers can return any Choice brand of strawberries they may have at home to Countdown for a full refund.

Countdown last week announced it had halted imports of Australia strawberries to NZ for the season while competitor Foodstuffs ceased shipping them to its stores.

The problem seems to have started with a Facebook post earlier this month by a man who said his friend had swallowed part of a needle hidden in a strawberry and went to the hospital.

Countdown also urged customers to cut up any strawberries purchased before eating them, echoing similar advice from Australian authorities.

Woolworths Australia, Countdown's parent company, has withdrawn needles from sale as a "precautionary step" as police hunt for the original culprit amid a spate of copycat episodes.

Countdown would continue to stock New Zealand strawberries.

Strawberry Growers New Zealand executive manager Michael Ahern says while this is naturally of concern to their industry, this is an Australian strawberry issue and there is no evidence to suggest any connection to New Zealand-grown strawberries.

She said she ate the fruit often but usually in the summer when it was in season.

"I'm not too casual about it either", he said.

It is not known either whether the affected punnet was discovered by a member of the public or a staffer.

He also said this should not be happening in New Zealand and hoped authorities investigate.

Police in Australia suspect numerous reports of fruit contamination could be fake, or copycat contamination.

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