National

Strawberry saboteur manhunt now nationwide

By AAP Newswire

The search for the culprits inserting needles into strawberries is spreading after more punnets of contaminated fruit were found in South Australia and NSW.

It's feared copycats might be behind the latest discoveries inside supermarket strawberries, with consumers warned to continue to cut up any fruit not on the recall list before eating it.

Numerous needles and pins have been found in the fruit across the country, prompting the federal government to announce it's examining the states' handling of the problem.

The latest contaminated batch was detected in Woodville, outside Newcastle NSW. The punnet of Wallace Road strawberries was bought from Coles at the nearby Stockland Greenhills shopping centre, NSW Police told AAP on Sunday.

Authorities hope a $100,000 reward for information offered by the Queensland government will lead to the capture of the culprit or culprits.

NSW detectives will meet on Monday to share information as they work to figure out the origin of the contamination.

The sabotage spread to South Australia at the weekend, with a needle found in a punnet of Mal's Black Label strawberries on Sunday.

Tasmania police are also investigation the possible contamination of a punnet bought at a Woolworths in Hobart.

The discovery came as Coles and Aldi supermarkets pulled all strawberries from their shelves across the country, except Western Australia, as a precaution.

Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Donnybrook Berries have recalled their strawberries nationwide.

Police are also investigating contamination of fruit sold by Delightful Strawberries, Love Berries and Oasis in stores in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered the national food safety watchdog to assess the states' handling of strawberry contamination.

"This is a very vicious crime and it's a general attack on the public, and it's also an attack on a specific industry," he told reporters on Sunday.

A health warning to throw out or cut up strawberries remains in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

"Remember, if in doubt, throw them out. Otherwise, make sure you chop before you chomp," Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said.