People have been hiding sewing needles in store-bought strawberries in Australia, which has sent at least two men to hospital with abdominal pain.
The small needles have been found totally concealed inside the strawberries, making them very hard to find.
At least 11 people across six Australian states have reported seeing needles in their strawberries, although most of them spotted the contamination before swallowing the fruits.
This photo, published by Sky News Australia, shows how easy it is to miss a needle:
People started noticing needles in their strawberries earlier this month after a man in Queensland, northeastern Australia, published a viral post claiming that his friend accidentally swallowed half a sewing needle while eating strawberries, and had to be sent to hospital.
Joshua Gane said on Facebook: “He bites through a strawberry and swallows half a sewing needle. We then checked the other strawberries and found another sewing needle lodged inside one of them.
“We are now at the ER [emergency room] because he subsequently started experiencing severe abdominal pain.”
Hoani Hearne, a 21-year-old in Queensland, was also taken to hospital after swallowing part of a needle and developing severe abdominal pain on Sunday, according to The Courier Mail.
“I bit straight in — kneejerk reaction was to swallow — and yeah, it wasn’t a pleasant surprise,” Hearne told the local Nine News TV network, as cited by The Courier Mail.
As of Monday, nine people in five other Australian states have reported finding needles in their store-bought strawberries in five other Australian states outside Queensland.
The latest case came on Monday, when a man in York, Western Australia — the other side of the country form Queensland — found a needle while washing his strawberries, as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Police still have no idea who did it
It remains unclear how the needles managed to get into the store-bought strawberries, and at which stage of the production process the fruits were contaminated.
The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association said last Thursday that the perpetrator could be one of its disgruntled former employees, according to The Australian.
However, with the contamination found across other states in Australia, authorities are no longer sure.
Queensland police are still working to find the perpetrators, and are “keeping a very open mind” as they interview more than 100 people to find suspects, according to Business Insider Australia.
The Queensland state government is also offering AU$100,000 (US$72,000) for information, News.com.au reported.
Adrian Schultz, the vice-president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association lashed out at the “commercial terrorism,” and warned that it could effect the entire fruit industry.
Schultz said, according to News.com.au: “I’m angry for all the associated people, it’s the farmers, the people who supply them, the packaging people, the truckies with families to support, who suddenly lose their jobs … it’s far-reaching.”