Six strawberry brands 'contaminated', as government offers six figure reward

It's a crime so unusual that any motive seems almost inconceivable.

On Thursday, Queensland police announced they were also investigating a suspected copycat incident after a metal rod was discovered on top of strawberries inside a plastic punnet at Coles in Gatton.

Two of Australia's major supermarkets have pulled strawberries from shelves over needle contamination fears.

Reports out of three Aussie states have strawberry lovers checking their fresh fruit carefully.

A Queensland man posted this photo of a strawberry with a needle in it after reporting his friend swallowed one.

The Australian state of Queensland on Saturday (Sept 15) offered a A$100,000 (S$98,450) reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for sabotaging strawberries with sewing needles. "It is simply unacceptable, I am furious about this".

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A health warning to throw out or cut up strawberries remains in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia as authorities hunt those responsible.

Strawberry prices have dropped around the country.

This week, Jamie Michael, head of the Western Australian Strawberry Growers Association, told the Australian broadcaster that the needle incidents have come at peak strawberry-selling season, disrupting the market at a particularly inconvenient time. "It is a very, very broad picture and we can't speculate in any way, shape or form", said Terry Lawrence, Queensland acting chief superintendent.

The Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Donnybrook Berries, Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries and Oasis brands of strawberries are believed to be affected, according to the police, who said the contaminated fruit appeared to have originated at a Queensland-based supplier.

"How could any right-minded person want to put a baby or a child or anybody's health at risk by doing such a awful act?" she asked.

The Queensland strawberry industry is valued at about Aus$160 million (US$114 million).

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