In September 2018, a food tampering incident occurred involving sewing needles inserted into Australian strawberries. Initially an isolated event in Queensland, the incident escalated to other states and territories involving multiple tampering events in strawberries and other fruit across the country. Only a few instances were believed by authorities to be associated with the original event with most other instances believed to multiple hoax or 'copycat' events.
Queensland Health and the Queensland Police Service (QPS) led the incident investigation and response. State and territory food regulatory agencies and the Australian Government have also responded with a range of measures including removing implicated strawberries from sale, introducing and strengthening penalties for food tampering, and imposing stricter conditions for strawberry export.
In response, the Minister for Health the Hon Greg Hunt MP asked FSANZ to investigate the supply chain to understand whether there are breaches in the supply chain which are systemic, to provide urgent and immediate advice to help protect Australians.
Report on the strawberry tampering incident
FSANZ released its report on the strawberry tampering incident including key recommendations focusing on the need for improved communication during incidents, particularly those involving criminal matters in February 2019.
Read the report:
PDF | Word
See media release:
Media release: Strawberry tampering investigation report released
Follow-up report to government on the strawberry tampering incident debrief
FSANZ also undertook a joint debrief meeting with industry, jurisdictions and police to further reflect on the incident and confirm what systemic changes may be required.
Read the follow-up report:
PDF | Word