Six berry brands linked to needle sabotage

Sonia Kohlbacher and Ed Jackson
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QLD STRAWBERRY CONTAMINATION

A third brand of strawberries are being removed from shelves after needles were found in the fruit

Six brands of strawberries are believed to have been targeted in a needle sabotage spanning four states, with police unsure if it is the same ploy or a copycat.

NSW Police are warning the contamination may have spread beyond the Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Donnybrook brands confirmed by Queensland Police.

They suspect the Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis labels have also had sewing needles inserted in them.

"As the products have yet to be forensically examined, it is unknown if the contamination is related to the original Queensland incident or a copycat," NSW Police said in a statement late Friday.

It comes as products sold by Sunshine Coast supplier Donnybrook were pulled from supermarket shelves earlier in the day following the discovery of needles in three punnets of fruit on Thursday and Friday.

The strawberries were bought in Tweed Heads in NSW and Queensland's Redbank Plains and Everton Park, but it is unclear which of the farms sent the strawberries.

Donnybrook supplies Coles and Woolworths stores across Australia.

"We've got to look at this as a whole, it's a very, very broad picture and we can't speculate in any way, shape or form," Queensland Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence said.

He says there is no link between the three most recent cases and the Warmuran farm that sparked an initial health warning after supplying contaminated berries to Queensland, NSW and Victoria under the brand names Berry Obsession and Berry Licious.

Authorities say there are other reported cases of sabotaged strawberries that are yet to be confirmed, and South Australian consumers have also been warned to discard Donnybrook-branded strawberries.

It comes after NSW mother Chantal Faugeras posted to Facebook images of strawberries she says she bought from a Coles supermarket on the state's mid-north coast on Tuesday.

In the post, Ms Faugeras says her 10-year-old discovered a pin embedded in a strawberry while eating a punnet they had bought from Coles at Wingham.

"We found 3 pins inside 3 strawberries," Ms Faugeras wrote.

"Please be careful and crush them up before eating or just chuck them out."

She said the punnets were both Delightful Strawberries branded product. Another affected batch was bought in nearby Taree.

Coles said they had been in contact with Ms Faugeras.

"Coles takes the safety of the food we sell seriously and we are working with our suppliers, police and state health regulators to investigate," a spokesperson said in a statement.

"The safety of our customers is our priority and anyone concerned about their health should seek medical advice."

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association believes a disgruntled farm worker may be responsible but police say they are investigating all aspects of the strawberry transit process.

It is unclear if Ms Faugeras' discovery is related to the earlier incidents or a potential copycat.

On Thursday, Queensland police announced they were investigating a suspected copycat incident after a metal rod was discovered on top of strawberries inside a plastic punnet at Coles in Gatton.