Australia fruit scare: Needles found in New Zealand strawberries

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New Zealand's Countdown supermarket chain said it had taken a brand of Australian strawberries off the shelves after the needles were found in produce sold at one of its branches.

It has been almost a week since the first needle was found in a punnet of strawberries bought in Queensland.

Customers can also return punnets of the affected brand of strawberries for a full refund.

The chain said no illness or injury has been reported in New Zealand.

Auckland resident Ly Nguyen was alarmed to hear about the discovery of needles in strawberries sold by Countdown.

Countdown also urged customers to cut up any strawberries purchased before eating them, echoing similar advice from Australian authorities.

Strawberry Growers executive manager Michael Ahern says New Zealand growers are already concerned that New Zealand will be tarred with the Australian brush.

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More than 100 people in Australia have reported finding needles or other shards of metal in strawberries and other fruit, according to the Australian government.

Customer notice signs are displayed underneath packets of Australia strawberries on sale at a supermarket in the central New South Wales town of Mudgee in Australia, September 23, 2018.

"The biggest issue reported by strawberry growers right now is supply".

Woolworths Australia, Countdown's parent company, has withdrawn needles from sale as a "precautionary step".

Countdown has pulled all the brand of strawberries from its shelves, as well as from FreshChoice and SuperValue last week.

Foodstuffs said last week that it would halt the distribution of Australian strawberries in New Zealand.

Investigators there fear that initial reports earlier this month about fruit from the northeastern state of Queensland might have inspired copycat actions, though some reported incidents have been revealed as social-media hoaxes.

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