This is the opposite of a sweet surprise.
People around Australia are finding sewing needles shoved into their strawberries.
While it’s being called a “deliberate act,” no culprit has been apprehended for the disturbing occurrences.
According to investigators, the needles, sometimes broken in half, have been found in two different brands of berries. Both are sold at Woolworths supermarkets, a popular chain in the country.
The latest count on discovered needles is six, at least one of which was swallowed by a consumer. The negative effects of the crime are far greater than just the considerable danger to buyers, however — the plummeting demand for strawberries in the country is crippling farmers, forcing them to take drastic measures to ensure the safety of both the customers and their farms.
“It’s quite devastating for our growers,” says a representative from the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association. “They’re really upset about it obviously, because this is their livelihood, and someone has taken it upon themselves to do something really nasty.”
One of the first reports of needled berries was posted on Facebook.
As you can see, it would be impossible to spot the sharp piece of metal until you bit into the fruit.
The needles are being found in ordinary containers like this one.
This warning quickly went viral on Facebook. The comments section is full of people tagging their family and friends, attempting to spread the word before someone else gets hurt.
Unfortunately, this part of the initial post has proven untrue. The problem is now more widespread than a single store.
As the situation has spiraled, farmers have been forced to destroy crops.
These actions aren’t only to cleanse their patch of possibly tainted fruit. Because the demand for strawberries has dropped, it would currently cost more for the farmers to reap and sell their crops than to destroy them and take a loss.
Understandably, people in the Australian strawberry industry are rattled.
The big question is: Why someone would do something like this? The prevailing theory is that a disgruntled farm employee is responsible.
And now, the story has taken an even nastier turn.
Now there are reports that people suspect a copycat strawberry meddler!
As the story develops, more and more disturbing photos have been released.
Sure, everyone knows to wash their berries, but how often do you cut them in half to check for booby traps?
Even if authorities find the culprit, it’s likely that strawberries will remain a less-than-popular item for some time — which could have a lasting impact on the industry.
In the meantime, all anyone can do is exercise caution.
If authorities have any leads, they haven’t released them to the public as of yet.
We’ll all be looking at our food a bit more closely from here on out.