Needles found in Auckland Countdown strawberry punnet

Needles have been found in a punnet of strawberries in an Auckland supermarket.

Countdown has withdrawn the Australian Choice brand from its shelves as a precaution and is advising customers to cut up the berries before biting into them.

The brand, from Western Australia, was sold throughout New Zealand last week.

Countdown says they have received no previous reports of contaminated produce from Choice and the brand had not been withdrawn from sale in Australia.

All Choice strawberries have been withdrawn from all Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice while the supermarket and its suppliers look into the matter.

"Customers can return any Choice brand of strawberries they may have at home to Countdown for peace of mind and a full refund," Countdown said in a statement.

"As an extra precaution and following similar advice from public health authorities in Australia, customers should cut up any Australian strawberries before eating them."

Countdown says strawberries grown in New Zealand have not been affected. The supermarket chain is in contact with both New Zealand and Australian authorities.

Australia's agricultural industry has been rocked in recent weeks by the discovery of needles hidden inside strawberries, an apple and a banana.

New South Wales police says the fruit contamination crisis was the work of pranksters and copycats.

In the wake of the needle crisis, Foodstuffs made the decision last weekend to halt the distribution of Australian strawberries in all their stores including New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square.

"The New Zealand season is about to start in earnest and local fruit will soon be in store," says a Foodstuffs spokesperson.

"We do not stock Choice strawberries."