As strawberry season kicks off in Australia, farmers devastated by needle scare hope for recovery

Australians are being urged to eat strawberries over summer, following a series of incidents where needles were hidden in the fruit.

Queensland State Agriculture Minister Mark Furner will officially launch the summer season in Stanthorpe today, with Queensland producers set to deliver up to 30,000 tonnes or 60 million punnets of the fruit this season.

Mr Furner says the response from the public to the crisis has been heartening, after the government announced NZ$1.1 million to help the industry recover.

"The sabotage of the strawberry industry in September was devastating for strawberry growers who put their heart and soul in to producing a safe and delicious product," Mr Furner said

Paul Dansted from MPI said the discovery of a needle in a punnet of strawberries in Auckland was under investigation but he was concerned the risk could be blown out of proportion. Source: Breakfast

"Now we need consumers across Queensland, indeed across Australia, to back our strawberry growers by enjoying Queensland strawberries every chance they get."

The Queensland government has previously revealed more than half the $1.1 million will be spent on an advertising campaign, with $270,000 allocated for safeguarding supply chain integrity.

About $162,000 NZD will be given to the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association and Growcom to allocate to producers affected by the crisis.

The federal government has also allocated $1.1 million to the industry, after needles were found in strawberries in other states.

The perpetrators are yet to be found, with the Commonwealth rushing laws through parliament to see those responsible face up to 15 years behind bars.

Sewing needles and pins have been deliberately placed inside strawberries across the ditch.
Source: 1 NEWS