Australian boy arrested for putting needles in strawberries

В Австралии задержали подростка подкладывающего иголки в клубнику

The offender faces up to 10 years in prison

A young person has been arrested after admitting putting needles in the fruit as a copycat prank, police said.

She said they would be working closely with police in their investigation and urged customers to cut the fruit as a safety precaution. Police did not name the boy.

The Queensland Government also said on Tuesday it would spend a further $1 million to investigate gaps in the supply chain, assist farmers and promote local strawberries.

One big retailer in New Zealand said it would halt the sale of Australian strawberries in the wake of the scare.

But Dutton said he believed numerous 100 separate reports were hoaxes or copycats, and he was angry about the diversion of police resources to the matter.

In addition to the contaminated strawberries, needles have now been found in apples and bananas.

Authorities are searching for more suspects as more than 100 reports of sabotaged fruit have poured in.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison, labelling those behind the mass adulteration of fruit as "grubs" and "cowards", said Parliament would continue sitting this week until it passed a new law targeting "reckless behaviour".

He added: "And if you do that sort of thing in this country, we will come after you, and we will throw the book at you".

"The sabotage of our strawberry industry is not just an attack on hard-working growers and workers, but it reaches into nearly every home and school lunch box", Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Wednesday.

The brands have since been recalled by Queensland Health.

The federal government pledged A$1m (£550,000; $720,000) to assist the strawberry industry, matching a commitment made by Queensland.

But while authorities across the affected states work to find the people responsible for the interfered-with fruit, the Guardian reports the contamination scare has spread, and that all states could now be affected.

"Coles has worked with our suppliers to implement additional control measures to ensure strawberries are inspected before they are sent to supermarkets", a spokesperson for the grocery store giant said.

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"I'm just as disgusted as you are", Ms Palaszczuk said.

There have been dozens of other reports of tampered fruit across Australia over the last week, but many of those are believed to be hoaxes.

According to officials, the food crisis has forced one strawberry farm to completely dump all of its produce.

The government of Queensland has offered a reward of 100,000 Australian dollars (about $71,510) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the contamination.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said the culprits must be "pursued and hunted down".

In Victoria the opposition has called for bipartisan support to create a new offence for deliberately contaminating food with a mandatory three year prison sentence.

"We are dumping strawberries - we have stopped some of the varieties already", he told the ABC.

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