A disgruntled former worker in Australia has been accused of purposely putting sewing needles in strawberries, according to police.
Consumers in Queensland have been told to return or discard fruit due to the harmful contamination after a customer was rushed to a hospital after swallowing part of a needle in a strawberry.
Hoani Hearne, 21, was rushed to the hospital Sunday with "severe abdominal pains," according to a friend, Joshua Gane, who posted about the incident on Facebook.
“We then checked the other strawberries and found another sewing needle lodged inside one of them,” Gane added. Hearne’s status inside the hospital is unknown.
The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association believes a former employee at the supermarket chain Woolworths put needles inside the fruit, according to reports.
“At this time, have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, wherein sewing needles were found in a number of strawberries, in Queensland and Victoria,” the organization said in a statement.
Police said they believe the contamination was done deliberately to hurt people.
"[It's been done] obviously to injure somebody," Queensland Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence of the State Crime Command told ABC Australia.
Woolworths have said they have taken the contaminated strawberries off the shelves as the investigation continues.
"Customers are advised to return these products to their local Woolworths for a full refund," a spokesperson told ABC Australia.
Police believe they have contained the threat, which was first reported over the weekend. The strawberry stock should be replaced by Thursday and will be safe to consume.
However, police advise cutting up strawberries to be safe.
On Thursday, police said they feared there may be copycat culprits as a needle was found in another batch of strawberries.