Strawberry sabotage crisis spreads to New Zealand

A punnet of Australian strawberries contaminated with needles has been found in New Zealand in the first such reported case across the Tasman.

The fruit, imported from Western Australia and sold under the Choice brand, had been sold at a supermarket in Auckland, Woolworths-owned Countdown.

It is one of NZ’s two major supermarket groups and the incident was announced on Sunday evening.

No injuries were reported.

Countdown said remaining stock of the brand had been pulled off its shelves. It was sold nationwide last week and and had not previously been flagged as a concern.

A contaminated strawberry found in Australia earlier this month. Source: AAP/Queensland Police

The company urged NZ residents to cut up strawberries before eating them, echoing similar advice in Australia.

Authorities on both sides of the Tasman have been alerted.

Countdown last week announced it had stopped importing further Australian strawberries as a precaution, following scares across the states, while competitor Foodstuffs halted distribution to its stores.

Australian strawberries are exported to NZ from April to September and local strawberries began appearing on shelves this week in their place.

More than a dozen cases of strawberry tampering have been reported in Western Australia.