A needle has reportedly been found inside an apple purchased at Lake Macquarie, in the region’s second contamination incident within a day.
It came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the government would make punishments for sabotaging food more severe – taking the maximum jail term from 10 to 15 years – in the wake of the strawberry contamination scandal that has swept the nation.
Police were called to a Glendale home on Wednesday afternoon after a primary school aged girl found a pin after biting into a pink lady apple.
The girl’s mother Lyn Bradley said the child was not hurt and they had contacted the store where they bought the apple to report the finding.
Ms Bradley said she had been cutting fruit before giving it to her kids, but didn’t on Wednesday afternoon.
She was shocked when her daughter handed her an apple with a pin sticking out.
“It looks like a sewing needle, one you stitch clothes up with,” she said. “I thought it wouldn’t happen to us, but bloody hell.”
Earlier, police were called to St Paul’s primary school at Gateshead where a student found a needle inside a banana brought from home.
On Saturday, a young girl from Woodville found a needle in a punnet of Wallace Road Berries strawberries bought at Coles at Green Hills.
Police said people with contaminated fruit should take it to the nearest police station to be examined.
In a message on social media on Wednesday, Mr Morrison encouraged people to continue to buy strawberries and pledged “tough new laws” would be introduced within 24 hours to increase penalties for people convicted of tampering with food.
“I know many Australians are very concerned about what’s been happening with the strawberries and what some idiot has done in disrupting and damaging an entire industry and making parents worried all around the country,” he said.
“It’s not funny, it’s not right, it’s causing real distress and harm in our community and it’s got to stop.”