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LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published.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*
Australian students join second wave of climate action strikes
‘ScUber’ launches submarine trips to Great Barrier Reef
Australia's conservative government on course for ‘miracle’ election victory
Australian former PM Bob Hawke dead at 89
Aussie PM launches official campaign six days out from polls
Tears, insults as media’s role in Aussie election questioned
Australian woman charged with torturing animals after pelican kidnap Sydney
Assange jailed for 50 weeks for UK bail breach
Aussie scientists find antidote for deadly box jellyfish sting