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Strawberry scare hits New Zealand

A SCARE over needles found in strawberries in Australia has spread to New Zealand after a batch was found in a punnet of the fruit in an Auckland supermarket.

More than 100 reports of needles in strawberries has caused panic across Australia with many supermarkets withdrawing the fruit from their shelves.

The government there raised the maximum prison sentence for fruit tampering from 10 to 15 years last week, and there is a reward of A$100,000 (£55,000) for anyone able to offer information.

Many strawberry growers face financial ruin as they have been forced to dump unwanted produce. Retail prices in Western Australia — the source of the scare — have falling below production costs.

Countdown stores in New Zealand, where the needles were found, said customers can return their strawberries for a full refund.

People are being advised to cut up any strawberries from Australia as a precaution.

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