Woman charged over false Timaru needle in strawberry story

A woman has been charged with making a false complaint about a needle found in a strawberry in Timaru.

The woman, 28, has been summoned to appear in Timaru District Court on January 29 next year, Detective Inspector Corrie Parnell confirmed on Wednesday.

"It's disappointing that we've had to take this action, but this demonstrates that Police and Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI's) New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) take these matters seriously," said Mr Parnell.

"It also shows that, where appropriate, anyone making false reports in matters like this will be held to account."

The needle was found inside a New Zealand-grown strawberry purchased from Timaru's Pak'nSave, a spokesperson for the MPI's NZFS said on Monday.

Pak'nSave owner Foodstuffs, the police and the NZFS said they were working together to investigate the incident. All the strawberries at the Timaru supermarket were pulled from the shelves while the investigation was underway.

In November, strawberries were pulled from the shelves of a Geraldine supermarket after a needle was found in a punnet - the first time a needle had been found in fruit in the South Island.

There have been other reports of needles found in strawberries across New Zealand the past month, with a Tauranga family discovering a needle in a strawberry earlier this month.

Needles were also found in a punnet of strawberries in an Auckland Countdown in September.

The incidents followed the nationwide food scare across Australia, when over 100 needles were found in Australian strawberries.

A young boy and a 50-year-old woman have been arrested in relation to separate cases of needles found in Australian fruit.


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