Australian Strawberries Will Be Checked For Needles Across Entry Points In Malaysia

Over 100 reports have been made in Australia by people who found needles in their strawberries.

Cover image via Joshua Gane/Facebook

The Health Ministry has announced that all fresh strawberries imported from Australia will have checks imposed on them at every entry point to Malaysia

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

Image via Ahmad Irham Mohd Noor/New Straits Times

Health director-general (Health D-G) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah released a statement today, 20 September.

"As a precautionary measure, the ministry, through the Food Safety and Quality Division, has imposed checks on all fresh strawberries imported from Australia at all entry points in the country," the statement reads.

Additionally, the Ministry is working closely with the Australian High Commission Office in Malaysia on the matter. 

In Australia, over 100 reports have been lodged since last week by people who found concealed needles in their strawberries

The issue first came to light with a viral post by Facebook user Joshua Gane, whose friend Hoani van Dorp unknowingly bit through a tampered strawberry and swallowed half a sewing needle. He was subsequently sent to the ER for severe abdominal pains.

One of the tampered strawberries.

Image via Joshua Gane/Facebook

Cases of tampered strawberries have been reported in all six states of the country, reported CNN.

Many cases, however, may just be hoaxes or copycat attacks. New South Wales police force arrested a youth yesterday, 19 September, who admitted to putting needles in fruit as a "prank", reported BBC.

Six brands have since recalled their products from the shelves following the scare

Two of the brands affected by the needle scare.

Image via Queensland Strawberry Growers Association

Astro Awani named the six brands as:
- Berry Obsession,
- Berry Licious,
- Love Berry,
- Donnybrook Berries,
- Delightful Strawberries, and
- Oasis

However in the Health D-G's statement, Australian authorities have assured that from 19 September, all strawberries exported are free of metal contamination as it was issuing a Request for Permit (RFP) to exporters to resolve the problem.  

The Australian government plans to impose tougher penalties on food tampering offenders

The penalty for food tampering currently has a maximum prison term of 10 years, though the Australian government plans to increase it to 15 years.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the unknown perpetrator, calling them a "coward" and a "grub".

"It's not a joke, it's not funny, you're putting the livelihoods of hard-working Australians at risk, and you're scaring children," Morrison said, as reported by CNN.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Image via BBC

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