Now, Needles found in Australian Strawberries Exported to New Zealand

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The move comes after punnets in various parts of Australia were found with tiny needles inserted into the fruit.

It was unclear when the contaminated berries entered New Zealand but last week Australia had said it was using metal detectors to screen all strawberry exports.

The needles were found in a sample of Choice brand strawberries sold at a Countdown supermarket in Auckland.

The problem seems to have started with a Facebook post earlier this month by a man who said his friend had swallowed part of a needle hidden in a strawberry and went to the hospital.

"If people are genuinely anxious, our advice is that they should cut the strawberries before eating, to provide absolute confidence".

Woolworths Australia, Countdown's parent company, has withdrawn needles from sale as a "precautionary step".

Those fears have been stoked by the fact Choice is not one of the Australian brands specifically singled out for contamination risk.

"Growers have been overwhelmed by the community support", the strawberry industry association and Growcom said in a joint statement.

Ahern said it was important to understand that a lot of strawberry sales in New Zealand were on a personal and intimate level - with sales being carried out at farmers' markets and local areas within communities.

It's the first trans-Tasman case of needles being found in the fruit, although Countdown last week announced it had halted imports of Australia strawberries to NZ for the season, while competitor Foodstuffs ceased shipping them to its stores.

There have been no reports of any illness or injury in New Zealand.

"I have never heard of an incident like this with Countdown", she said.

Asked specifically about which Countdown supermarket store the affected strawberries were found at, a spokeswoman would not say.

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