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A man in Australia sought medical attention over the weekend after he bit into a strawberry and swallowed half a sewing needle in what officials believe was a case of sabotage, according to multiple reports.
Queensland police confirmed Thursday that they were investigating four incidents in which sewing needles were found in batches of strawberries sold in Queensland and Victoria. The strawberries were sold under the Berry Obsession and Berry Licious brand names.
By Thursday, officials said all the strawberry trays believed to have been affected had been removed from grocery store shelves.
“It is safe to purchase strawberries but until advised, consumers should cut up strawberries before consuming them,” officials with Queensland Health said in an alert Thursday. “This advice currently applies to all strawberries.”
An investigation was launched after a man posted on Facebook about his friend biting into a Berry Obsessions strawberry bought from a Woolworths in Strathpine, Queensland, only to swallow half of a sewing needle.
Joshua Gane said he and his friend, Hoani van Dorp, checked the other strawberries in the pack and found a sewing needle in another fruit.
Gane said van Dorp had to get medical treatment following the incident after he experienced severe abdominal pain.
The stores where officials found strawberries with needles in them were all served by the same supplier, news.com.au reported. Officials with the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association said Wednesday that they “have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated” the incidents.
“It appears the punnets of strawberries were interfered with between the time they were packed and the time they were purchased,” association officials said in a statement. “Regretfully, preventing random acts of extremism, sabotage and simple maliciousness from people with a grudge appears to be an increasing challenge across our society.”
Authorities continue to investigate the incidents.