Australian woman charged with contaminating strawberries with needles

The food contamination scare led to harsher penalties being rushed through federal parliament for those caught tampering with food

He said police collected 230 reports nationwide of strawberry contamination affecting 68 brands, most within his state, with the majority involving sewing needles.

She was arrested in Brisbane on Sunday, two months after Queensland Police fronted the media to warn about punnets being contaminated with needles.

An Australian woman has been charged for allegedly hiding sewing needles inside strawberries bound for supermarkets across the country in a freaky crime that left a number of people hospitalized and sparked a string of copycat incidents.

"The Queensland Police Service has allocated a significant amount of resources to ensure those responsible are brought to justice", Superintendent Wacker said.

Ms Trinh had worked as a supervisor at a strawberry farm north of Brisbane, according to Queensland Police.

The court heard Trinh, 50, was working at Berrylicious at Caboolture between September 2 and 5 when she allegedly inserted needles into the fruit.

The 50-year-old woman is the first suspect to face charges in the episode.

At the peak of the crisis, police were investigating more than 100 reports of tampered fruit nationally, most of which turned out to be fake.

Residents in Australia were urged to cut up their strawberries after several consumers reported finding sewing needles in the fruit.

Contaminated produce was found across five Australian states and even in New Zealand.

Prosecutor Cheryl Tesch said it would be alleged in court that DNA matching Trinh's was found on one of the needles discovered in a strawberry.

In a statement, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk: "Whoever is behind this is not just putting families at risk across Queensland and the rest of Australia - they are putting an entire industry at risk".

The crisis meant tonnes of strawberries were dumped or went to waste. If she is charged and convicted, she could face 10 years in prison.

November 11 - My Ut Trinh was taken into custody and charged with seven counts of contamination of goods.

The investigation was not over, with further investigative strategies being undertaken, he said.

Funds will also be given to the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association and Growcom to distribute to affected farmers.

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