[24 September/NZ Herald]

A strawberry grower assured consumers New Zealand strawberries were safe and unaffected by the needle problem in Australia. In the first reported case here, needles were found in imported strawberries at St Lukes Countdown. The company withdrew the brand from its shelves. Foodstuffs said it would half the distribution of Australian strawberries in New Zealand. There were over 100 reports of fruit being tampered across Australia. Shoppers were sickened and appalled that needles were found at St Lukes Countdown, with several saying it had put them off buying fruit altogether. Phil Greig, owner of a Strawberry Gardens in Kumeu, was concerned about public perception as it could damage his business and the public could lose confidence in eating fruit in general. He emphasised it wasn’t a New Zealand problem. He added a lot was done behind the scenes to ensure no sabotage happened here. Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister, Damien O’Connor, questioned why more was not done to check the fruit before sale.