A father who allegedly lied about his daughter finding a needle in a strawberry has been charged for making false claims.
The 34-year-old man from Paradise, in Adelaide, allegedly reported that his daughter bit into a strawberry that was contaminated by a needle to police on September 17.
News.com.au reported that South Australia Police revealed a statement that said he purchased the punnet from a metropolitan supermarket.
The charge comes as police are offering $100,000 for information about who could be behind the sabotage.
State Police Service Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewsksi (pictured, middle) said that there are currently 100 police officers and detectives working to find those responsible for the strawberry scandal hitting the nation
The fruit contamination scandal has spread to the Northern Territory, after a needle was found in a punnet of strawberries bought from a Darwin supermarket (pictured is a contaminated strawberry bought from Coles in Wingham, NSW)
Braetop Berries strawberry farmer Aidan Young poses on his Queensland farm alongside strawberries due to be destroyed
‘Following investigation by Eastern District CIB detectives, the man was arrested today and charged with making a false report to police and falsely claiming goods had been contaminated,’ the statement said.
Queensland Police are now appealing for public assistance in the investigation.
Officers have urged members of the public with information regarding the scandal to come forward, The Courier Mail reported.
State Police Service Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewsksi said that there are currently 100 police officers and detectives working to find those responsible.
Mr Gollschewksi said they’re focusing on a small amount of ‘credible contaminations’ in three of the recalled brands – Berry Licious, Berry Obsession and Donnybrook Berries.
He said that action will be taken against anyone who is providing false claims or ‘pranks’, including children having a bit of fun.
‘I’m urging all parents to talk to their children about the severity of making false claims, or sticking needles in fruit as a hoax – you’re messing with the industry’s livelihood and wasting police resources,’ Mr Gollschewsksi said.
The news comes after a Sydney schoolgirl found a sewing needle hidden inside a strawberry
‘A person who deliberately and knowingly contaminates food could be charged with the offence of ‘contamination of goods’ which carries a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Penalties could be even greater if these criminal acts cause injuries of a serious or permanent nature.’
The Queensland Government has announced a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the conviction of the saboteur.
A five-year-old girl was the latest victim of the fruit contamination scandal that has taken the country by storm.
Cairns mother Samantha Gray said her daughter Bella discovered the contaminated strawberry after finding it on the kitchen counter.
Posting to Facebook, Ms Gray said: ‘I had all intentions of chopping them up before consuming. Bella helped herself when I wasn’t looking and bit straight into it.’
Five-year-old Bella Gray (pictured) from Cairns has become the latest victim of the fruit contamination scandal after she bit into a strawberry containing a needle.
Samantha Gray said she burst into tears after checking her daughter’s mouth in the fear she had been injured by the spiked strawberry
NSW Police have taken the extraordinary step of using DNA testing as they investigate more than 50 cases of needles being found in fruit (stock image)
The latest case is the first uncovered in the Northern Territory, and comes as police investigate more than 100 reports of contaminated fruit around the country.
Farmers have been forced to destroy their strawberry produce en masse as incidents continue to be reported – with Queensland farmers announcing huge job losses on Tuesday.
New South Wales Police announced on Thursday they are now DNA testing needles and packaging in a bid to catch copycat offenders who are sabotaging fruit.
The federal government also rushed ‘tough new penalties’ through Parliament on Friday so those sabotaging fruit would face jail terms of up to 15 years.
There will also be a new offence of being reckless in causing harm, which will carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Sabotaged strawberries have now been discovered in South Australia as a fifth customer bites in to the contaminated fruit
An eight-year-old Sydney boy has already reportedly confessed he had placed a needle inside his watermelon in the last week.
And another young boy was arrested in New South Wales on Wednesday after admitting he put needles in strawberries as a ‘prank’.
The news comes after a Sydney schoolgirl found a sewing needle inside a strawberry and another student in the city uncovered an object implanted in an apple.
Woolworths has now stopped selling sewing needles in a bid to prevent saboteurs using them to spike fruit.
The supermarket giant literally pulled the pin following the crises across Australia.
‘We’ve taken the precautionary step of temporarily removing sewing needles from sale in our stores. The safety of our customers is our top priority,’ a Woolworths spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.