Number of needles found in food following strawberry contamination scare revealed

Needles have been inserted into food on six occasions in New Zealand shops following the highly publicised strawberry scandal in Australia.

Source: 1 NEWS

On another 67 occasions, between September and June, needles or pins were inserted into fruit or other food items either "accidentally or deliberately after sale", according to the Ministry for Primary Industries' annual report.

"Some were hoax or copycat incidents, or involved children who admitted inserting needles or pins into fruit as a 'joke' or to avoid eating the fruit," the annual report reads.

On one occasion the Police prosecuted a Timaru woman for laying a false complaint about finding a needle in a strawberry - causing loss by deception.

In September last year, a wave of tampering incidents began in Australia, causing enormous financial harm to the strawberry sector. 

Your playlist will load after this ad

Canberra is cracking down in response to the needle contamination crisis. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) initially refused to say how many needles had been found in food in New Zealand – worried that publicity could lead to copycat incidents.

But, MPI's director of government services Alan Witcombe told 1 NEWS the Ministry had changed its mind and decided there was public interest in the matter. 

"We decided it was more appropriate to formally release information on food tampering including foreign objects in food in our 2018/19 Annual Report to Parliament."

The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier recently told MPI he believed the public had a right to know this information.