The Australian strawberry is in the midst of a mini-crisis after punnets of the berries filled with hidden sewing needles were found in multiple supermarkets across the country.
One person has been hospitalised and multiple Australian farms have been brought into the mess, with police alerting the public on Friday that as many as nine strawberry brands could be affected.
Suspected brands that may have been contaminated with needles have been found in NSW, Victoria, the ACT, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania.
The strawberry crisis started on Sept. 9, when a man ate a needled strawberry he had bought from a Woolworths in Queensland. He was hospitalised with abdominal pains. From there, the state health body got involved, issuing a recall notice for anyone who bought Donnybrook, Berry Obsession, and Berry Licious branded strawberries.
Then reports of contaminated strawberries surfaced out of the rest of the country.
The Queensland government has offered a $100,000 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest of the perpetrator.
On Monday, federal health minister Greg Hunt ordered the nation's food safety body, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, to investigate.
Three strawberry wholesalers (Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, and Donnybrook Berries) have already recalled their product from supermarket shelves.
On Monday, things got international as New Zealand began to be concerned about the strawberries being imported from Australia.
Foodstuffs, one of New Zealand's major grocery stores chains, has stopped shipping Australian strawberries to its stores as a precaution.
But there is a growing grassroots movement from the public to keep buying strawberries in an effort to reduce the damage done to the industry. Instead, supporters have suggested consumers take the precaution to cut the berries up to check for needles.
Strawberry farmers were already having a rough time. There has been a glut of strawberries in Australia, meaning supermarkets had dropped the price of strawberries to as low as $1 per punnet, lower than the cost price, in an effort to clear the stock.
The needle scare has some worried the industry could be wiped out.