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Growers plead with public to keep buying strawberries despite contamination scare

AAP and Charis Chang, September 18, 2018 7:15AM news.com.au

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Strawberry punnets. Picture: AAP media_cameraStrawberry punnets. Picture: AAP

health

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Australians have been warned to cut strawberries into pieces before biting into them after several people found sewing needles hidden inside the fruit in recent days.

Needles in strawberries have been reported in New South Wales, ACT, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. The South Australian punnet came from a WA supplier.

One man was taken to hospital after eating a strawberry with a needle inside.

It is not known why someone has put needles into strawberries. One suggestion is that the person or people are unhappy with the strawberry-related company they work for and are trying to make trouble for that company.

It is possible that some of the later needles found were put there by other people who decided to copy the first person’s actions.

A possible strawberry contamination incident. Picture: supplied media_cameraA possible strawberry contamination incident. Picture: supplied
Pin found in a strawberry at Foodland store in Jamestown, South Australia. Picture: supplied media_cameraPin found in a strawberry at Foodland store in Jamestown, South Australia. Picture: supplied

There are claims needles have been found in up to eight separate brands of strawberries: Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Love Berry, Donnybrook Berries, Delightful Strawberries, Oasis, Mal’s Black Label and Pinata.

Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Donnybrook Berries branded fruit have recalled all their strawberries.

Coles and Aldi have both pulled all strawberries from their shelves, except in Western Australia.

Woolworths confirmed it had removed the Oasis, Love Berry, Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Donnybrook from stores. It does not stock the Delightful brand.

Empty shelves, normally stocked with strawberry punnets, at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane on Friday, September 14. Picture: AAP media_cameraEmpty shelves, normally stocked with strawberry punnets, at a Coles Supermarket in Brisbane on Friday, September 14. Picture: AAP

Australian strawberries have been withdrawn* from sale by one of New Zealand’s biggest grocery distributors.

Health officials have urged* people to be careful.

“Until advised, consumers* should cut up strawberries before consuming* them,” Queensland Health said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young speaks during a media conference explaining what is happening in the strawberry contamination scare. Picture: AAP media_cameraQueensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young speaks during a media conference explaining what is happening in the strawberry contamination scare. Picture: AAP

Queensland Police is leading the investigation. The Queensland government has offered a reward to $100,000 for information leading to the capture of the person or people to blame.

“How could any right-minded* person want to put a baby or a child or anybody’s health at risk by doing such a dreadful act?” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“This is putting families’ lives at risk and it’s also putting the strawberry industry at risk. We need to catch those responsible.”

Strawberry growers are urging people to keep buying the berries, but to cut them up before eating them to ensure they’re safe.

Strawberry growers, such as Laura Hendriksen, are urging people to keep buying berries but to cut them up before eating. Picture: AAP media_cameraStrawberry growers, such as Laura Hendriksen, are urging people to keep buying berries but to cut them up before eating. Picture: AAP

South Australian strawberry grower Brenton Sherry, who owns Harvest the Fleurieu and Kuitpo Strawberries, said if people stopped buying strawberries it could have a devastating* effect on growers.

“It’ll wipe out the whole industry in SA … in a matter of a month,” he said.

South Australian strawberry farmer Brenton Sherry, who is worried his company will fail if consumers turn away from eating strawberries. Picture: AAP media_cameraSouth Australian strawberry farmer Brenton Sherry, who is worried his company will fail if consumers turn away from eating strawberries. Picture: AAP

Strawberries continue to ripen even if they can’t be sold, so growers are forced to dump the strawberries, which means they don’t have an income. The thousands of people who work in the strawberry industry could lose their jobs.

Cameron Stevens in the Queensland strawberry fields he has sprayed to kill the strawberry plants, as many shops have stopped selling strawberries. Picture: AAP media_cameraCameron Stevens in the Queensland strawberry fields he has sprayed to kill the strawberry plants, as many shops have stopped selling strawberries. Picture: AAP

EXTRA READING

School lunches searched for fruit fly

GLOSSARY

withdrawn: taken away

urged: try to persuade someone

consumers: people who are buying or eating something

consuming: buying and/or eating

right-minded: thinking clearly and correctly

devastating: could ruin someone or something completely

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

QUICK QUIZ

1. How can you make eating strawberries safer at the moment?

2. What is one suggestion for why someone would do this?

3. What is Queensland Police offering for information leading to solving this crime?

4. What do strawberry growers urge people to do?

5. What could happen if no one buys strawberries any more?

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

SOS (Save our strawberries)

The public need to be cautious about consuming strawberries at the moment but it is also important that we continue to support the strawberry industry. To help, create a poster that contains these 2 things:

The facts that the public need to know to stay safe.

A yummy recipe containing chopped or crushed strawberries. (Examples: strawberry smoothie, fruit salad, etc.)

Extra resources: Basic recipe examples or templates for those who may be unfamiliar with the format

Extension: Write down what you would say to the person or persons who are responsible for putting the sewing needles in strawberries.

Time: Allow 40 minutes

Curriculum links: English

VCOP ACTIVITY

With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: How do you feel about eating strawberries? Will you keep eating them to support strawberry farmers? Why or why not? Use full sentences. No one-word answers.

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