Needles have now reportedly been found in a punnet of Australian imported strawberries that were purchased from an Auckland Countdown supermarket. The punnet which was returned to the store were imported from Western Australian under the name The Choice brand.

As a precautionary measure, all Choice branded strawberries have been removed from supermarket shelves across all Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice stores. Countdown is also advising customers to cut up strawberries before consuming them. The brand of strawberries was available from purchase nationwide last week.

“At Countdown, we take food safety very seriously and we have withdrawn any remaining Choice strawberries from sale from Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice supermarkets while we investigate this with our suppliers,” said a spokesperson for Countdown.

Countdown is offering full refunds to any customers who have the Choice brand of strawberries at home. Australian public health authorities have also advised consumers to cut up any Australian strawberries before eating them as an extra precaution.

So far there have been no reports of illness or injury from the affected strawberries in New Zealand. The strawberries affected by this withdrawal have not previously had any issues of this nature and had not been withdrawn from sale in Australia. Countdown is currently in contact with both New Zealand and Australian authorities as they investigate this matter further.

Foodstuffs has made the call to halt the distribution of Australian strawberries in its stores. “We do not have Australian product in our PAK'nSAVE, New World, or Four Square stores. The New Zealand season is about to start in earnest, and local fruit will soon be in store. We do not stock Choice strawberries,” said a Foodstuffs spokesperson.