Woolworths is removing sewing needles from its supermarket shelves nationally as the crisis over tampering with fruit grows amid concerns of copycat crimes.
“We’ve taken the precautionary step of temporarily removing sewing needles from sale in our stores,” a Woolworths spokesperson said in a statement.
“The safety of our customers is our top priority.”
While Coles and Aldi initially pulled strawberries from their shelves in the wake of sewing needles being found in punnets of strawberries from a Queensland producer, Woolworths has continued to stock the fruit, even though one of its Queensland supermarkets was involved in the initial incident.
But since then, a number of other incidents have emerged in Woolworths stores, including three in Hobart, where the fruit is all locally produced. Yesterday a teenage boy reportedly found a metal object in an apple purchased from a local Woolworths store as he was cutting up the fruit.
The announcement comes as the federal government moves to increase the penalties for copycat crimes, with around 100 incidents of fruit tampering reported nationally.
Labor says it will back the legislation, which it wants passed by Thursday night.
The Queensland, Western Australian and NSW governments are also offering a $100,000 reward in each state for information that leads to the capture of the culprits.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this morning that the new laws coming before parliament today, which increase the maximum prison sentence for food tampering to 15 years, along with a new offence of causing reckless harm, attracting 10 years in jail, will deter copycat crimes.
“I’m just focused on making sure no idiot goes into a supermarket this weekend and does something ridiculous,” he said.
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