A five-year-old girl has become the latest victim of the fruit contamination scandal after she bit into a strawberry containing a needle.
Cairns mother Samantha Gray said her daughter Bella discovered the contaminated strawberry after finding it on the kitchen counter.
The strawberry had been bought from the local Coles supermarket in Edmonton on Thursday afternoon.
Ms Gray said she burst into tears after checking her daughter’s mouth, fearful she had been injured by the spiked strawberry.
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.
Her mother Samantha Gray said she burst into tears after checking her daughter’s mouth in the fear she had been injured by the spiked strawberry
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.’
She added she felt like ‘the world’s worst parent’ having allowed her daughter to eat the strawberries without first cutting them up.
‘I was cleaning up and next minute she’s come running to me – “mum look what’s in my strawberry”,’ Ms Gray told Nine News.
Ms Gray said her daughter Bella bit into a contaminated strawberry she had found on the kitchen counter
She rang Coles straight away, who told her to return the punnet to the store.
The mother said by the time she arrived at the Edmonton branch, staff had already removed all of their strawberry stock from their shelves.
Coles have confirmed they are investigating the matter.
The incident in Cairns comes as the fruit contamination scandal spread to the Northern Territory, where a needle found in a punnet of strawberries bought in Darwin was reported to police.
NT Police Deputy Commissioner Grant Nicholls said a customer notified Nightcliff Woolworths after he found a needle inside a strawberry he purchased from the store around three days ago.
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.
The news comes after a Sydney schoolgirl found a sewing needle hidden inside a strawberry
Braetop Berries strawberry farmer Aidan Young poses on his Queensland farm alongside strawberries due to be destroyed
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)
Deputy Commissioner Nicholls said police were investigating whether the strawberry was contaminated interstate or locally – according to ABC News.
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.
‘I’m just focused on making sure no idiot goes into a supermarket this weekend and does something ridiculous,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
The most serious cases with national security implications will be covered by sabotage offences, with penalties ranging from seven to 25 years.
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 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)
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.
Where have the contaminated fruit been found?
September 9 – Brisbane man rushed to hospital after eating punnet of strawberries containing needle
September 10 – Woman from Gladstone, Queensland finds needle in strawberry
September 13 – Thin metal object found in Gatton, Queensland
September 14 – Chantal Faugeras find needle in punnet in Wingham
September 15 – Coles shopper finds contaminated punnet in Engadine, Sydney
September 16 – Contamination spreads to South Australia after a pin is found in Mal’s Black Label brand
September 17 – Tasmania Police investigate contamination claims in Hobart
Man reports finding needle in his sink while preparing strawberries to police near Perth
September 18 – Police confirm another needle was found in a strawberry in Wagga Wagga by a student at Wagga Public School
September 19 – Coles customer on the NSW Central Coast finds needle embedded inside mango
Student finds needle inside banana at a school in Newcastle – luckily before she bites into it
September 21 – Northern Territory Police announce first strawberry contamination case in Darwin