Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The Australian government ordered an investigation Monday into the discovery of sewing needles embedded in strawberries.
Needles hidden in store-bought strawberries have been reported in six of Australia's nine states and territories, but only one person has been hospitalized.
Health Minister Greg Hunt ordered the Food Safety Authority of Australia and New Zealand to investigate the matter, which he called "a very vicious crime" and "a general attack on the public."
No suspects have been identified.
Monday, the Aldi supermarket chain said it will begin stocking select brands of strawberries. Two New Zealand supermarkets, Foodstuffs and Countdown, said they would temporarily stop importing or distributing Australian strawberries.
The needle scare started last week with the Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Donnybrook, Love Berry, Delightful and Oasis brands.
Health officials have advised Australians to cut the strawberries before eating.
"How could any right-minded person want to put a baby or a child or anybody's health at risk by doing such a dreadful act?" Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asked. "This is putting families' lives at risk and it's also putting the strawberry industry at risk. We need to catch those responsible."
The Queensland government has offered a $72,000 reward for information. Police said it is too early to speculate on the motives, but say some incidents may be copycat crimes.
The scare has come at a time of peak production of Australian strawberries and is decimating a $94 million industry. Strawberry prices across the country have dropped, with prices in Western Australia at a point below the coast of production.