Police are investigating reports a needle was found in a strawberry purchased in Orange on Saturday, September 15.
The incident was reported to police on Tuesday afternoon.
Central West Police District Inspector Peter Atkins confirmed the strawberry was purchased from a supermarket, but wouldn’t reveal which one.
He confirmed the supermarket had removed all strawberries from its shelves and an investigation had been launched.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Inspector Atkins said police were treating the case as an isolated incident and were liaising with special police investigators.
“It’s just one incident at this stage, one reported case,” he said.
He encouraged anyone with more information to get in touch with authorities.
Inspector Atkins also warned that contaminating food was a serious crime which could land people up to 10 years in prison, echoing a statement released by Central West Police earlier on Wednesday.
“NSW Police Force are warning the public of the serious penalties associated with deliberate fruit contamination as investigations continue into the insertion of sewing needles into strawberries,” the release said.
More than 20 reports of contaminated strawberries have been reported to NSW police across the state, with three brands – “Berry Obsession”, “Berry Licious” and “Donnybrook” – all being affected. All three brands have been recalled.
While police have received reports of potential contamination impacting other strawberry brands, consumers are advised while they are believed to be safe to eat, to be sure people should cut the fruit before consuming it.
An investigation, which is now being led by Queensland Health, was launched on Wednesday, September 12, to investigate reports of contaminated strawberries supplied from Queensland.
Police are urging anyone who has purchased contaminated product to take the punnet to their local police station immediately “for triage and forensic examination”.
NSW police have also received reports of contamination of other types of fruit, including a banana and an apple, which are being treated as isolated incidents.
Anyone with information that may assist investigators should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.