New South Wales Police Threaten to Jail Fruit 'Pranksters'

NSW boy arrested for inserting needles in strawberries as prank

Strawberry needle saboteurs 'should swing for this' – agriculture minister

Police said they were investigating the incident.

STRAWBERRIES imported from Australia are being thoroughly checked at the country's entry points following the discovery of sewing needles in the fruit.

Police are investigating more than 100 reports of needle-tampering cases across the country, many of which are suspected copycat cases or hoaxes.

On Wednesday, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press statement that the current maximum penalty for food contamination offenses will be increased from a 10 years to 15 years.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the "parasites" responsible for spiking strawberries should do hard time in jail.

Last week saw a mass recall of strawberries being sold around Australia after it emerged that a number of batches had been contaminated with sewing needles.

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According to recent reports, a customer who bought mangoes from Coles Supermarket in Brisbane, Australia found a needle in the fruit.

It's reported the wholesale price of strawberries has been slashed by more than 50 per cent, prompting growers to purchase expensive metal detectors to safeguard their stock.

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That, he said, would put the crime on par with "things like possessing child pornography and financing terrorism".

"Labor will work with the government on supporting farmers and stopping these despicable acts", Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Jamie Michael, who is head of the Western Australia Strawberry Growers Association, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that his farm had dumped strawberries in the peak of the season and that if shoppers stayed away, some growers would not be able to afford to plant a crop for next year.

NSW Police are working with Queensland Police to find the culprit and have "partner agency agreements" in place to deal with copycats, pranksters and those wishing to cause harm.

If the person were an adult, he would be facing a maximum of 10 years in jail in NSW.

"I feel bad taking the strawberries at the cost we got them for, but that's still money in their pockets and we'll take whatever we can get to help them out", senior brewer Jarrett Bravo told ABC. It has paralysed the fruit industry as supermarkets are keeping strawberries off their shelves.

Earlier, three Australian state has announced a reward of 100 thousand Australian dollars (71 700 USA dollars) for information which may help in the investigation of this crime.

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