Perth Child Bites Into Strawberry, Finds Needle
A child is the fifth case of a contaminated strawberry reported in WA.
The Willetton primary school student found a needle after biting into a strawberry at school, police confirmed on Tuesday.
It follows similar reports that people from York, Kelmscott, Spearwood and Bull Creek also bought strawberries which contained needles.
Earlier on Tuesday, WA Premier Mark McGowan said the WA Government was offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of anyone involved in contaminating strawberries with needles.
He also described the offenders as dropkicks, who were liable to 20 years imprisonment in WA.
"If you undertake this sort of activity you can and will be caught," he said.
“If they think it funny, if they are getting a kick out of it, they’ve got to understand you are risking someone’s life.
"Those people deserve to go to jail."
Strawberry Association WA vice president Paul Da Silva said the contamination was definitely not happening at farm level and it looked like "copy cats".
"A lot of growers are under extreme pressure at the moment. Some of them are sitting back waiting, actually not picking," he said.
At Perth's Canning Vale markets, pallets pass through a metal detector installed by AllStates Fruit and Vegetable Merchants, and the strawberries are labelled "scanned for metal contaminants" in a bid to restore confidence among consumers.
But anything can happen at the store level, spokesman Le Bach said, so the company is considering introducing improved packaging.
South Australia Police confirmed on Monday two cases of suspected contamination in WA-grown strawberries.
Mr McGowan encouraged consumers to continue buying WA strawberries.
"It's the peak of the season, they're delicious, they're tasty, you only have to take a small precaution, which is cut it in half, and you can be absolutely assured that they are completely and absolutely safe," he said.
Serious and Organised Crime Squad Detectives are currently investigating the cases.
Anyone who locates anything suspicious is encouraged to contact their local police, call 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
People found responsible for this conduct could face a charge of Acts or Omission Causing Bodily Harm or Danger.