Strawberries. Apples. Bananas. The trifecta of fruits kids love the most.
But, because of a few bad apples (I’m talking people here, not actual apples) among the bunch, these tasty Aussie fruits are now tainted with fears of contamination.
Health authorities have confirmed the strawberry contamination scare has now spread to all six states, leaving Australian parents shocked and confused. More and more people are discovering sewing needles in their strawberries, causing supermarkets to recall brands and farmers to dump fruit.
Even worse, the contamination is spreading to other fruits including bananas and apples.
What in the world is going on?
It all started earlier this week when a Queensland man accidentally swallowed a sewing needle, hidden inside a strawberry. From there the incidents continued with more and more people finding needles in their strawberries, including a seven-year-old in South Australia and a nine-year-old in Queensland.
Needles have cropped up in strawberries across Australia now, with Coles, ALDI, IGA and Woolworths all pulling strawberries from their shelves.
But it’s not just strawberries. People are now finding needles in apples and bananas too. Just this morning a mum in Kellyville, NSW reported discovering a needle in an apple she was cutting up for her daughters for school, prompting even more concern.
“I just thought, wow, this can’t possibly be happening, not in apples,” the mum told 7 News.
Stop messing with our fruit!
No one knows exactly who is doing this. At first it was suspected that disgruntled farm employees were to blame for the original sewing needle sabotage.
But now officials are thinking copycats are messing with fruit in supermarkets. Despite stores putting in video surveillance and farms looking into expensive metal detectors, the incidents keep coming.
Yesterday a 62-year-old woman from Queensland was caught placing a metal object in a banana, confirming the theory that people are now purposely trying to keep the sabotage going.
Why anyone would do this is beyond me. It’s not only horribly dangerous and criminal, but it is also devastating for the farming industry. Farmers are having to dump their crops and kiss their family’s income goodbye because of this strawberry contamination scare.
Farmers to pay the ultimate price
Stephanie Chheang from Donnybrook Berries posted a video of her family’s strawberries being dumped with a heartbreaking message:
“This is no doubt the worst thing to ever happen to my family. My mum Leena Lee Cufari and my step dad have worked years to build the empire they’re sitting on now. They work hard to make the money for our family and to have these selfish individuals destroy it is just so upsetting.
This will not stop my family from doing what they do best, if anything they’re going to do better. I thank everyone who supports us and all the other farmers who were affected by this horrible issue. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Adrian Schultz, the vice-president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, says what started as a single act of “commercial terrorism” has brought a multimillion-dollar industry to its knees. There’s even a $100,000 reward in place in Queensland to find the jerks who are responsible for this.
“I’m angry for all the associated people – it’s the farmers, the people who supply them, the packaging people, the truckies [truck drivers] – with families to support, who suddenly lose their jobs … it’s far-reaching,” – QLD Strawberry Growers Assocation’s Adrian Schultz
Slice your strawberries and support our Aussie farmers
Parents are rightfully concerned about finding a needle in their kids’ fruit. Or, worse still, NOT finding it and discovering a child has swallowed it. Many people are throwing away their fruit, just in case and steering clear of the produce section until this clears up. And that’s completely understandable.
But, please, before you boycott completely, consider what this will do to the farmers. There are ways we can support them AND keep serving fruit to our families. Simply take the time to cut up the fruit before serving. Cut strawberries in half. Slice apples in pieces. And chop bananas.
Our Aussie farmers need our support now more than ever. Giving up on our farmed fruit completely means that the asshats who have done this will win. And that’s NOT the Aussie way.
For current information on the strawberry needle scare, visit Queensland Strawberries on Facebook.