Australia searches for culprit hiding sewing needles in strawberries

Empty shelves normally stocked with strawberry punnets are seen at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane

In recent days, a number of people in Australia have opened boxes of strawberries they purchased at supermarkets, only to find that the fruit has small sewing needles or pins stuck inside.

A $100,000 reward has reportedly been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Australia's strawberry spikers, amid fears up to six brands may have been contaminated with needles and pins.

Some Australians have posted photos on social media showing needles they found in their berries.

Spiked strawberries have surfaced in Sydney, with a horrified shopper finding needles stuck inside three pieces of the fruit.

The Queensland government is now offering a $100,000 reward for any information that will help police catch those behind the strawberry needle sabotage scandal.

"Until advised, consumers should cut up strawberries before consuming them", Queensland state government said in a statement. "I am furious about this".

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Mr Michael said strawberry growers made huge capital outlays to plant their crops, and now was a critical time of year for them to get some money back.

Strawberry prices have dropped around the country.

This week, Jamie Michael, head of the Western Australian Strawberry Growers Association, told the Australian broadcaster that the needle incidents have come at peak strawberry-selling season, disrupting the market at a particularly inconvenient time.

A nationwide recall is now in place for six strawberry brands.

. "It is a very, very broad picture and we can't speculate in any way, shape or form", said Terry Lawrence, Queensland acting chief superintendent.

"The most frustrating thing for us is there is no reason for WA consumers to be concerned or to avoid eating WA strawberries, given the incident happened 3000km away and appears to be the work of a disgruntled employee", he said.

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