Australia Berry Scare: Suspect Driven By Spite, Police Say

Collection StoriaNews

An Australian woman, who caused panic among consumers and financial ruin to fruit farmers, has been arrested.

The woman, accused of putting sewing needles inside strawberries in a high-profile sabotage case, was motivated by spite, a court has been told, according to CNN and the BBC.

The suspect, My Ut Trinh, 50, was arrested on Sunday after a nationwide police investigation that began in September.

Trinh had worked as a manager at a strawberry farm north of Brisbane, according to Queensland Police.

The maximum prison term for contaminating food in Australia was recently raised to 15 years.

Trinh faces seven counts, and has not said whether she will appeal the case.


Police said there had been 186 reports of needle-contaminated strawberries since September, though 15 turned out to have been hoaxes.

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Fear of strawberry contamination severely damaged Australia's multimillion-dollar fruit industry.

Large numbers of strawberries were recalled from Australian supermarkets, and many farmers were forced to trash their crops. Some local and overseas buyers canceled the sale of Australian strawberries.

The incidents prompted authorities in the Australian state of Queensland to issue a warning on September 12, advising consumers to cut up the fruit.

Strawberries made up 3 percentof Australia's fruit exports for the year ending June 2017, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The country exports strawberries to many nations, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.

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