Needles in strawberries
Investigations are underway after needles were found in strawberries in Queensland.
The Queensland Police Service commenced an investigation after it was reported that strawberries sold under brand names Berry Obsession and Berry Licious were found to be contaminated with sewing needles. These brands have now been removed from sale.
In a statement released via its social media channels, Queensland Health says it's safe to purchase strawberries but until advised, consumers should cut up strawberries before consuming them. This advice currently applies to all strawberries.
Why are they being recalled?
Sewing needles were reportedly found in strawberries purchased in a Woolworths store in Queensland.
Exactly which products?
The affected strawberry brands are “Berry Obsession” and “Berry Licious”.
The affected strawberry brands are Berry Obsession and Berry Licious. These brands have been removed from sale.
Where were they sold?
It is understood these brands are sold in stores in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
I ate this product. Am I at risk?
Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice.
Queensland Health suggests you call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or speak to your GP.
I have this product at home. What should I do?
Don't eat them. Anyone in possession of the Berry Obsession and Berry Licious strawberries should dispose of them or return to the place of purchase.
In a statement, Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said, "While it is expected that berries picked early last week would now not be useable, many people freeze the fruit for later use. If you are in doubt, just throw them out."
She went on to add, "Any strawberries bought from 13 September are safe. Any strawberries that you are certain are not the brands Berry Licious and Berry Obsession, are
How did the contamination happen?
It's believed the needles were deliberately added to the products by a disgruntled employee of a Queensland strawberry farm. Authorities are investigating.
Police are urging anyone who locates strawberries containing the needles to contact Policelink for further advice on 131 444.
Who should I contact for more information?
If you're concerned call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or speak to your GP.
Previous food recalls
A nationwide recall of multiple frozen vegetable products was initiated due to possible microbial (Listeria monocytogenes) contamination. The products were sold under brand names Bell Farms, Black & Gold and Woolworths Essentials.
Greenyard Frozen Belgium NV, a Hungarian food producer, initiated the original recall in July, which affects products supplied to multiple countries including Australia.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported that frozen corn and other frozen vegetables produced by the same Hungarian company are the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has been affecting Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom since 2015. As of mid-June 2018, 47 cases including nine deaths had been reported.
The products affected were:
- Woolworths – Essentials Snap Frozen Mixed Veg: carrots, peas, corn, green beans & potatoes (1kg) – National distribution. Best Before 19 MAR 2020 through to 24 APR 2020
- Woolworths – Bell Farms Steam Veggies: carrot corn and broccoli (3pk, 450g) – National distribution. All stock
- IGA – Black & Gold Corn Kernels (500g) – National distribution. Best Before all dates
- IGA – Black & Gold Mixed Vegetables: carrots, peas, beans & corn (1kg) – National distribution. Best Before all dates.
- Aldi – Market Fare Peas, Carrots and Super Sweet Corn (1kg) – National distribution.
- Aldi – Market Fare Corn Kernels (1kg) – Qld, Vic, WA and select NSW stores. Product of Hungary (only).
- Aldi – Market Fare Mixed Vegetables (1kg) – Qld, NSW, ACT, WA stores. Packed in Belgium from Imported and Belgian Ingredients (only).
- Aldi – Market Fare Quick Steam Carrot, Broccoli & Cauliflower (450g) – National distribution.
- Aldi – Market Fare Quick Steam Carrot Corn and Broccoli (450g) – National distribution.
- Aldi – Only products with country of origin of Belgium, United Kingdom or Hungary. All other countries not affected.
Multiple people fell ill with Salmonella poisoning after eating contaminated alfalfa sprouts sold in South Australia. The sprouts were available for sale at Drakes Foodland, IGA and numerous greengrocers in SA. Experts postulated that the source of the contamination could have been from the water used for irrigation, manure or the soil itself. For more information people were asked to contact SA Sprouts, phone: 08 8352 6707.
The products affected were:
- Gourmet Sprouts Trio Pack - Alfalfa, Snow Peas and Small Sprouted Bean 100g
- Fresh Organic Sprouts Alfalfa & Chinese Cabbage 125g
- Fresh Organic Sprouts Alfalfa & Onion 125g
- Fresh Organic Sprouts Alfalfa & Garlic 125g
- Fresh Organic Sprouts Green Alfalfa 125g
- Fresh Organic Sprouts Alfalfa 125g, 200g, 1kg
- Fresh Organic Sprouts Alfalfa & Mustard 125g
- Fresh Organic Sprouts Alfalfa & Radish 125g
- Fresh Organic Sprouts Salad Mix 175g
All use-by-dates up to and including 28/6/2018.
A South Australian woman died from Hepatitis A, two months after eating contaminated frozen pomegranates which were the target of a nationwide recall
. Creative Gourmet brand frozen pomegranates, sold in Coles supermarkets across Australia, were recalled in April 2018 after NSW Health determined that a number of people presenting with hepatitis A had all consumed the imported product. Genetic testing of those affected identified a unique strain of the hepatitis A virus known as genotype 1B.
Nationally, there have been 24 cases to date of hepatitis A linked to the recalled product.
Six people died and many more fell ill as a result of eating rockmelon contaminated with Listeria
. Rockmelons sold in supermarkets including Woolworths and Coles sparked an outbreak of listeriosis (also known as listeria infection), an illness that can be severe and fatal. All of the people affected contracted the condition before the contaminated rockmelons were destroyed, as Listeriosis can take more than a month for symptoms to present. Rockmelons traced back to a grower in Nericon, NSW, were identified as the common cause in all cases, prompting health and food agencies across different states to launch an investigation and coordinate a recall.
Four cases of hepatitis A were linked to Creative Gourmet's Mixed Berries, sparking the second nationwide frozen berry recall
after a previous outbreak in 2015. Supplier Entyce Foods initiated a recall of 48,000 Creative Gourmet's Mixed Berries in 300 gram packs, most of which were sold at independent supermarkets by March 2017.
Up to 30 different types of pre-packaged and loose leaf lettuce mixes sold at Coles, Woolworths, Bi-Lo and a number of independent retailers around Australia were recalled following a salmonella outbreak linked with the products
The affected products, which were grown in Australia, were sold under the Coles, Woolworths, SupaSalad and Wash N Toss brands and came from a Victorian-based lettuce grower Tripod Farmers. A wide range of lettuce types were affected and included both pre-packaged and loose-leaf products such as spinach, rocket, cos and mesculin.
Seven different coconut drink products were recalled
for not including necessary allergen warnings. The drinks, imported from countries including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, were largely sold through Asian grocery stores and independent retailers. For people with dairy allergies, consuming these drinks could have serious consequences. The government stepped up efforts to remove those products containing undeclared allergens from the Australian market.
Packets of frozen mixed berries, sold under the brands Nanna's and Creative Gourmet by Patties Foods, were recalled
as health officials linked a number of cases of hepatitis A in Victoria and NSW to the consumption of the fruit sourced from China and Chile. The frozen mixed berries were sold mainly in Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets.The recall prompted renewed calls for improved country of origin labelling
Why do food recalls happen?
A food recall is action taken by a food business to remove unsafe food from distribution, sale and consumption. All food businesses must be able to quickly remove food from the marketplace to protect public health and safety. FSANZ coordinates and monitors food recalls in Australia.
Recalls are classified according to the problem with the food. This includes:
- undeclared allergen – due to incorrect labelling, incorrect packaging or contamination of the product by an allergen
- microbial – contamination with pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites
- foreign matter – contamination with material such as glass, metal or plastic objects
- biotoxin – contamination with biological toxins such as histamine in fish and paralytic shellfish toxin in oysters
- chemical/other contaminants – contamination with substances such as cleaning products, pesticides, machine oil, etc
- packaging fault – where an fault in the food packaging results in contamination (presence of glass/metal etc) of the food or a potential choking hazard.