Needle in banana found in child’s lunchbox at St Paul’s Gateshead, parents told to cut up fruit

FOUND: The needle was hidden inside a banana. Picture: Andrew Quilty. A CHILD at a Newcastle primary school hasdiscovered a needle inside a banana packed in their lunchbox.

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The studentfrom St Paul’s Gateshead luckily discovered the fruit was contaminated before biting into it. The child alerted teachers and police were called.

Detectives from Lake Macquarie LAC were sent to the school to investigate the incident and have removed the banana for further tests.

“The school is sending a message to all parents to tell them what has happened,” a spokesman from the Diocese of Maitland Newcastle said.

“The student is okay and police have been called.

“We will be trying to get parents to cut up all fruit before it is sent to school.

“At this point it is the sensible thing to do.”

The discovery follows the widespread contamination, which started two weeks ago when a Queensland man found a sewing needle in a strawberry.

On Saturday the contamination reached the Hunter Region when ayoung Woodville girl found a needle in a punnetof Wallace Road Berries strawberries from Coles Green Hills.

Police are warning the public of the serious penalties associated with deliberate fruit contamination.In NSW, the maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years imprisonment.

An investigation, which is now being led by Queensland Health, was launched on Wednesday September 12.

Inquiries to date indicate the contamination affects three brands ofstrawberries– “Berry Obsession”, “Berry Licious” and “Donnybrook” – which were sold across Australia, including NSW. These three brands have since been recalled.

While police have received reports of potential contamination impacting otherstrawberrybrands, consumers are advised they are believed to be safe to eat, but to be sure, cut the fruit before consuming.

So far, NSW Police Force has received more than 20 reports of contaminatedstrawberries, which have been seized for forensic examination.

Police are urging anyone who has purchased contaminated product to take the punnet to their local police station immediately for triage and forensic examination.

If any member of the community is concerned about the integrity of the product they’ve purchased, it may be returned to the point of sale.

All relevant information is being collated in each state and provided to Queensland authorities to assist with their ongoing investigation.

Police have also received reports of contamination of other types of fruit, including another banana and an apple, which are being treated as isolated incidents.

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