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Needles found in New Zealand strawberry, vegetable

By Clyde Hughes
Needles found in New Zealand strawberry, vegetable
The suspect in the Australia needle scare is being driven into the police watch-house in Brisbane, Australia, on November 11, 2018. File Photo by Dan Peled/EPA-EFE

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- New Zealand authorities reported two incidents where sewing needles were found in supermarket products, sparking new fears about contaminated fruit and vegetables after similar incidents in Australia caused countrywide panic in September and October.

New Zealand officials said that a shopper found the needle in a strawberry that was purchased at a supermarket in Geraldine, a town on South Island, The Independent reported on Monday. Authorities said that person was not injured.

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"[The ministry] will provide support and information to police where needed and work to mitigate any public health risk," New Zealand officials said.

A second similar incident was discovered in Tauranga at the supermarket chain Countdown over the weekend. The needle was found in a capsicum and referred to police and the country's Ministry of Primary Industries.

RELATED Australian woman arrested in strawberry needle scare

"We've been in touch with both the customer and MPI," a supermarket representative said, per the New Zealand Herald Monday. "The matter is now with the NZ Police who are investigating. We take food safety incredibly seriously and will work closely with both the NZ Police and MPI to cooperate fully with their investigation."

On Nov. 11, Australian authorities arrested My Ut Trinh, 50, accusing her with planting needles in strawberries as a farm supervisor in an alleged plot against her employer.

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Officials there said that the woman, who worked as a supervisor at the Berrylicious strawberry farm in Caboolture, inserted the needles between Sept. 2-6 with the intent to cause financial loss to the farm's owner. Some 230 reports of strawberry contamination were documented in Australia, causing a nationwide scare.

RELATED 'Vicious" needle scare now includes apples, bananas in Australia

Authorities believed that some of the reports may have been the result of copycat incidents.

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