The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association suspects a disgruntled ex-employee is behind the sewing needles found inside strawberries that has sparked a recall across three Australian states.
"At this time, [we] have reason to suspect that a disgruntled ex-employee may have orchestrated the occurrence, wherein sewing needles were found in a number of strawberries, in Queensland and Victoria," a statement from the association said.
"To our current knowledge, two labels, Berry Licious and Berry Obsession are the only affected lines."
While the contamination has only impacted two brands, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young advised anyone who bought strawberries in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria since early last week to get rid of them if they were worried and especially if they were not sure what brand they were.
"Definitely those two are the only brands of concern but if people don't know, and they want to be ultra cautious, then it would be best if they just throw out any strawberries," Dr Young said.
"A lot of people won't know the brand of strawberries they've bought … if they do have any strawberries it would be safest to dispose of them."
Dr Young said she was particularly worried about those who may have frozen the strawberries for use later and may not still have the packaging.
Alternatively, shoppers who had frozen their strawberries could keep them until after police finished their investigation.
Queensland Police suspect the needles were deliberately planted in the punnets "obviously to injure somebody" or with another possible motive.
Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence said there was no evidence of extortion but police inquiries were continuing.
He urged anyone who found a needle in a strawberry to call police on 131 444, particularly if they still had the packaging.
A single farm in southeast Queensland supplied the fruit to three Woolworths supermarkets in Queensland and Victoria where consumers found the needles.
It also supplies to stores in New South Wales.
Dr Young said it was unclear what other stores the producer supplied so that was why a more general warning was being issued.
Victoria Police said what appeared to be sewing needles were located in two punnets in separate regional Victorian towns. One in Yarram and another in the southern Ballarat suburb of Sebastopol.
Stores will be throwing out strawberries currently in stock but fresh produce will be available tomorrow, Dr Young said.
"Any strawberries bought from 13 September are safe," she said.
"Any strawberries that you are certain are not the brands Berry Licious and Berry Obsession, are safe.
"Tomorrow people can go back and buy the strawberries they normally buy, from anywhere."
Dr Young said the first case emerged on Sunday when a person complained of eating a contaminated strawberry in Queensland. He is the only person believed to have swallowed a needle.
Last night two further incidents emerged in Victoria, prompting an urgent investigation.
A 21-year-old Burpengary man who bit into a strawberry with a needle inside it on Monday told The Courier Mail he ended up in hospital after swallowing part of it.
"When I bit into one I felt like a sharp snap and my knee jerk reaction was to swallow and what was left was half a sewing needle," he said
"I'm just in shock, you don't expect that."
Dr Young said anyone who swallowed a needle was at risk of it getting caught up in their stomach.
She advised anyone who believes they may have swallowed a needle to call Australia's 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or to speak to their GP.
"I love strawberries, there is no reason to stop eating strawberries, we just need to be aware of this incident."