- 7 News/Youtube
- Australia is in the grip of a bizarre crisis in which people keep finding needles hidden inside strawberries.
- Attempts by the police, supermarkets, and the Australian government to halt the phenomenon have so far come to nothing.
- As a result regular Australians are changing the way that they consume strawberries, so they can keep eating them without the risk of swallowing a needle.
- Some are using egg-slicers and blenders to slice the berries and uncover any hidden metal, or cooking with strawberry flesh instead of just eating it.
- Ideas are circulating under the cheery #SmashAStrawb hashtag.
People in Australia are so terrified of swallowing needles hidden in their strawberries, and have turned to other ways to eat them instead.
Since earlier in September, people have been finding sewing needles and other sharp metal objects hidden in fruit, including in apples, bananas, and a mango. Police have received over 100 reports of hidden needles so far.
Responses by companies, police, and politicians have so far failed to make much of a difference to the crisis.
As a result, ordinary Australians are coming up with ways to eat strawberries without biting into them and potentially ingesting a needle.
— Wendy Wood (@WendyLWood) September 18, 2018
The response is partly motivated by a desire to help strawberry farmers, whose businesses have been hit badly by fears of hidden needles.
A popular Instagram post from personal trainer Yasmine Lintvelt showed her using an egg-slicer to cut up her strawberry so she could eat it in slices:
View this post on Instagram
Meanwhile, in Australia, there's some total A-holes who need to get smacked. I don't know about the rest of you vegans out there but I found a handy use for my egg slicer a few months ago (which had gone unused for a couple of years now) and I have to say, it's pretty useful right now ????????↔️???? . . SUPPORT THE STRAWBERRY FARMERS, the strawberries don't have the plague, in fact this one was damn tasty. The majority are not contaminated, and if you find any needles in a pack then you can report it of course. . . . Just call me The Strawberry Girl #thestrawberrygirl #strawberry #strawberries #Australia #news #farmers #vegan #foodinspo #eatthefoodtina
The #SmashAStrawb hashtag has also been trending in Australia. “Smash” here has a double meaning – the word is also Australian slang for eating lots of something, as well as literally smashing the fruit up.
A Twitter user under the name Wendy Wood posted images showing strawberry rum cocktails as an idea to get around the needle problem (her post is embedded above).
The National Party of Australia, which has its roots in farmers and the agricultural community, posted a popular cartoon urging people to “Cut ’em up. Don’t cut ’em out.”
Cut 'em up.
— The Nationals WA (@TheNationalsWA) September 18, 2018
Chelsie Sloane, a reporter for local media in the city of Perth, posted her solution, a chocolate pizza with slice-up strawberries on top:
— Chelsie Stone (@stone_chelsie) September 18, 2018
Natalie Brant used the hashtag to share her strawberry tarts using thinly-sliced berries:
— natalie briant (@NatalieBriant) September 18, 2018
Caroline Carter said that she had swapped her avocado toast to feature strawberries instead:
— Caroline Carter (@CCarter163) September 18, 2018
Making jam is another popular choice. MP Deb Frecklington, who leads the Liberal Party of Australia, posted a recipe on Facebook which she said she was using:
Media outlets like the Guardian Australia joined in by publishing exotic strawberry recipes including a strawberry granita by celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi, a sparkling strawberry jelly, strawberry lassi (a type of milk drink) and strawberry “fruit leather.”
In the meantime, police continue to hunt for perpetrators, but have not given any substantive updates since arresting one person – a child -whom Australian media say admitted to hiding needles.
On Thursday lawmakers in Australia amended the Criminal Code Act 1995, increasing the maximum punishment for those tampering with food – which would cover hiding needles – from 10 years to 15.