'We were so shocked': Kiwi who found pin in kids' strawberries

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Friday, 7 December 2018, 9:12a.m.
Tauranga man Michael Rayner pictured with the strawberry. Photo / Alan

A Tauranga man who found a pin in a strawberry he was cutting up for his kids, says he was "stunned" and "surprised". 

The matter has been referred to police and the supermarket where the strawberries were purchased has pulled the remaining stock from its shelves.

Michael Rayner told Mike Hosking luckily they found the needle before giving the strawberries to their kids.

"It was a pin, it was actually my partner who discovered it, she was chopping up some strawberries for the kids' dessert and they were literally sitting on the other side of the bench and she struck the pin."

"We were just stunned. We were like, "Oh my goodness, okay, we have seen this in the news and now I'm looking at it myself" so it was very surprising but aside from that it was right we need to get ahold of some people."

"I immediately called the police. The police came back and said, "look we've got MPI is going to get ahold of you, they're the lead agency on this" and then they started a case, so MPI is, hopefully, going to send someone today to pick it up."

Police confirmed the matter had been reported and said they had referred it to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Rayner said he's not sure exactly what MPI will do with the needle but he believes they will track it using CCTV.

"They have the exact time that my partner went through the checkout so they backtrack at least through the supermarket."

"I'm not sure how far back from there they can traces things but hopefully, the idea would be to catch the person and if they get enough of a sentence out of it no one else will try something this stupid."

Rayner said he called the Pak'nSave store where he bought them but they didn't seem prepared for an incident like this.

"The reaction was like, "oh, can you bring them back in?".

"I said you need to get into a car now and come around here to pick this up."

"You need to stop selling these immediately and p[ut some kind of a recall on this."

The incident hasn't put the family off strawberries they have just decided to grow their own ones.

"We are buying some slug bait because we've got strawberry plants and we don't really do the world's amount with them so we will be growing our own and eating them from now on."

Foodstuffs NZ spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said the company was "aware of an issue with a customer finding a pin/needle in a punnet of strawberries" purchased at its Tauranga Pak n' Save store.

The remaining product has since been removed from the store's shelves.

"We are liaising with the authorities directly regarding this and as such we are unable to comment further.

"Customer safety is our number one priority and we encourage all customers to contact stores directly should they ever encounter a tampering issue with a product."

MPI said it had spoken to the complainant and was working with Pak n' Save to investigate the incident.

The discovery is the latest in a string of disturbing incidents involving needles in fruit.

A needle was found inside a punnet of strawberries purchased at a supermarket in the South Island last month.

Police were investigating the incident and said the fruit was purchased in South Canterbury's Geraldine.

In September three needles were found in three strawberries in one punnet at Countdown St Lukes in Auckland.

An MPI spokeswoman said then they were aware of a report of needles being found in imported Australian Choice brand strawberries at the store.

Customers were advised to return the brand as a precaution, though the brand was not implicated in the Australian strawberry contamination and associated recalls that created shockwaves over the Tasman earlier this year.

Police are also investigating after a needle was found in a capsicum bought at a Countdown store in Tauranga last month.

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