An Australian supermarket chain said on Thursday it had stopped selling needles, as police across the country investigate more than 100 cases of them being found in fruit.
"We've taken the precautionary step of temporarily removing sewing needles from sale in our stores," a Woolworths spokesperson said. "The safety of our customers is our top priority."
The move came as the Australian parliament fast-tracked legislation to toughen penalties for those found tampering with food.
The sentence for "food terrorists," as Australian media has dubbed them, was increased from 10 to 15 years in prison, broadcaster ABC reported.
Several state governments in Australia have also announced awards of A$100,000 ($73,000) for information leading to the arrest of people who have stuck needles in fruit.
The scandal began last week when needles were found in strawberries across the country supplied to Woolworths from a Queensland farm.
Since then more than 100 cases of needles found in strawberries, bananas and apples have been reported across the country, with fears that initial reports have encouraged copy cats.
Australian ministers have encouraged consumers to continue buying strawberries in order to support the industry, but have warned people to chop up fruit before eating it.
"The one thing that people can do better than government is go and buy strawberries," Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told ABC radio.
"Stick it up these parasites by going into the supermarkets and buying strawberries."
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Australia says virus outbreak shows signs of peaking
Australia borders to stay shut as Covid-19 daily deaths reach record
Australia’s Victoria reports deadliest day of pandemic
Australia to keep its borders closed due to Covid-19 spike
Melbourne enters Australia’s toughest Covid-19 lockdown
Australia suffers record coronavirus deaths
Australian state to deploy military, impose hefty fines to enforce Covid-19 isolation
Melbourne locks down in frantic race to curb virus
Curfew imposed in virus-hit Melbourne