Nicholas Sakelaris

Australian authorities said Tuesday a needle scare, which involves someone putting the sharp objects in strawberries, has grown to include possibly apples and bananas. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 18 (UPI) — The needle scare in Australia has grown worse — moving from strawberries now possibly to apples and bananas, authorities said Tuesday.

Officials said an apple and banana in Sydney have been found to contain needles, and 20 new cases involving strawberries have been reported in New South Wales. In one case, a man was hospitalized.

“This is a very vicious crime and it’s a general attack on the public,” said Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt.

The Canberra government ordered an investigation this week into the strawberry cases. Needles have so far been found in strawberries in six of Australia’s nine states and territories.

RELATED Probe widens into Australian strawberry needle scare

Strawberries have a complicated supply chain and so far, Queensland police say the investigation has been slow. It’s unknown if the strawberry sabotage, which affected multiple brands, is a coordinated effort or the work of copycats. Two states have offered rewards of up to $72,000 for information.

The Berry Obsession, Berry Licious, Donnybrook, Love Berry, Delightful and Oasis brand strawberries have all been affected.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said the people behind the attacks are “evil” and urged Australians to cut the fruit before eating.

RELATED Australian officials warn of needle danger for 6 strawberry brands

Australia’s $130 million strawberry industry has taken a hit as products are pulled from shelves and prices plummet. Some Australians are getting creative, crushing strawberries into jam to continue to support the industry.

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