Consumers are urged to throw away strawberries purchased over the past week in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria after needles are found inside the fruit.
Health officials and police said on Wednesday needles were hidden in at least three trays of strawberries supplied to Woolworths by a farm in southeast Queensland.
Authorities are investigating the contamination after a man said he swallowed a strawberry with a needle on Sunday.
A man posted a photo of a sewing needle sticking out of a strawberry, claiming his friend had to be taken to the emergency room after swallowing another on Sunday afternoon
Needles were found in packages at two Woolworths stores in Victoria and one in Queensland with an urgent recall pending.
The farm where the strawberries come from sells to stores in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Joshua Gane was driving with his friend Haoni van Dorp on Sunday afternoon when they drove to the Strathpine Center Woolworths, about 12 miles north of Brisbane.
Purchasing a punnet of strawberries, the two men left the supermarket and continued to drive.
Soon after, van Dorp says he bit one and swallowed half of a sewing needle, before the couple found another.
Haoni van Dorp (pictured) bit into one of the strawberries and swallowed half of a sewing needle
Police believe the needles may have been deliberately planted with the assailant wanting to harm.
Gane posted the ordeal on Facebook, along with a photo that shows a metal pin sticking out of a strawberry.
He said they took the rest of the strawberries apart and found another pin.
He said his friend had to be taken to the emergency room with “severe abdominal pain”.
Photos on Facebook show a metal pin sticking out of the strawberry, but men aren’t sure how it got there.
Gane said the store manager contacted him following the incident and told him they suspected foul play.
He wrote that it was not clear who stuck the needle, but said police and health and safety officials were called.
Queensland Police have now opened an investigation into the contamination of the affected strawberry brands – Berry Obsession and Berry Licious.
Authorities are liaising with retailers to ensure all stock is removed from sale to prevent further mishaps.
He says after swallowing the needle they took apart the rest of the berries and found another one
Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Jeannette Young said anyone else who has purchased the brands of strawberries without signs of tampering should return them to the store or throw them away.
“Although the berries picked early last week are expected to be no longer usable, many people freeze the fruit for later use,” she said.
“If you have any doubts, just throw them out.
She said all strawberries purchased from September 13 onwards were safe and this incident did not mean you would stop eating strawberries.
“All strawberries that you are sure are not Berry Licious and Berry Obsession brands are safe.
“If you think you have eaten a needle, we recommend that you talk to your doctor or call 13 HEALTH.
“There is no reason to stop eating strawberries, we just need to be aware of this incident.”
A Woolworths spokesperson said the berry brand had been “temporarily removed” from shelves, after the pair purchased their tubs at the Strathpine Center Woolworths
A Woolworths spokesperson said the “Berry Obsessions” brand had been “temporarily removed” from shelves wherever supplied.
“Woolworths takes food safety very seriously and we are reviewing these claims with our supplier,” they said in a statement.
“We are working closely with the authorities as they investigate this matter.
“We have withdrawn the Berry Obsession and Berrylicious brand strawberries from sale while this incident is investigated.”