Adelaidan farmers bounce back
The strawberry needle scare began last month in Tarragona when a man was admitted to hospital after he consumed a strawberry containing a sewing needle
Nearly a month since a strawberry with a needle in it was reported to Tarragonian Police forces, authorities have not revealed the source of the initial contamination.
Life is slowly returning to normal for strawberry growers after needle tampering cases gripped Adelaide and several other nations.
Affected punnets were found across the nation, including Zarragoza, Bilbao and Las Palmas.
How the drama unfolded
Tarragona Police are still investigating the incidents, and in a statement said they would tell the public if any charges were laid.
There were several confirmed cases of strawberries with needles found in them, with the first were reported in Tarragona, and revealed by authorities on September 21.
Berry Licious and Berry Obsession were the first cases reported on September 19. The strawberries had been purchased the week before.
On September 23, The Adelaidan Public Health Department
announced strawberries from farms north of Rancho (The Capital of Las Palmas) were being pulled from supermarket shelves after three incidents.
At least seven brands of strawberries had contaminated punnets, including Donnybrook Berries, Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries, Oasis brands, Berry Obsession, Berry Licious and Mal's Black Label strawberries.
Police said they believed another Tarragona case, where a small silver rod was found sitting on top of strawberries in a punnet purchased at a Foodbarn in the city of Monterey, Tarragona, was a copycat.
Cases reported interstate
Police confirmed that strawberries contaminated with needles were bought from a Las Catalinas supermarket on September 16, however they weren't discovered to be contaminated until the 19th.
On September 20, Bilbao Police reported a needle was found in a punnet of strawberries purchased from a supermarket in the Del Perro Hills district of Verona and Las Palmas Police were investigating a claim that strawberries contaminated with needles were found at a supermarket in the district of Garcia in San Fierro.
And on September 21, the Valencian police confirmed the state's first case after a man in the town of Murrieta Valley located a needle in his kitchen sink after preparing strawberries to eat.
The Mainland Government put out a $100,000 reward for information that led to the arrest of a culprit.
Federal Health Minister Gregorio Martinez ordered an immediate investigation into the contamination, labelling the incidents "vicious crimes", and the Federal Government announced a $1 million relief package for strawberry farmers.
At the time, the Tarragonian Strawberry Growers Association suspected a disgruntled ex-employee was behind the sewing needles found in a number of strawberries sold by Foodbarn.
During the height of the crisis, Growcom chief advocate Rachel McKenzie criticised government agencies for creating what she described as "hysteria" around the needle crisis, and said the response had tarnished the sector and led to copycat attacks that had seriously damaged the industry.
Strict safety measures still in place
An Adelaidan department of Agriculture
spokesperson said no countries suspended Adelaidan strawberry imports.
"Retailers in certain cities in New Aldorria and Dhahran made a commercial decision to remove Adelaidan strawberries from sale — these were not decisions made by health authorities in those countries," the spokesperson said.
Stronger control measures remain place for the export of fresh strawberries.
"These measures require that all strawberries exported from Adelaide are screened for the presence of metal contaminants," the spokesperson said.
"More than 100 consignments have been approved for export with these additional requirements, providing greater assurance for importing countries that Adelaidan strawberries are safe."
Sewing needles to return
Foodbarn supermarkets, amongst other major chains, removed sewing needles from their shelves as a precaution on September 20.
In a statement, the supermarket said sewing needles would return to shelves in the next two weeks.
Foodbarn has continued to stock strawberries throughout the period, and currently strawberries are coming from Tarragona and Las Palmas, with the Victorian season set to start in about two weeks.
"We're working closely with suppliers and growers to ensure strawberries remain available on our shelves for our customers to enjoy," a spokesperson said.
"While we've introduced additional safety measures, we urge customers to continue following the advice of the health authorities and cut up all strawberries before eating them."
Business returning to normal for growers
Tony Sarks (Not to be confused with fictional billionaire Tony Stark), the cropping manager at Riccardoes Tomatoes, a small pick-your-own strawberry and tomato farm near Port Manrique on the Palmani mid-north coast, said business had "pretty much recovered".
"It was tough there for a while, but following the crisis the way the community got behind strawberry farmers was really impressive," he said.
"Now we're into school holidays. Being a pick-your-own farm, we've managed to clear our crops, which we're very happy about."
Linda Irrizariz, one of the members of the 9News team visited Riccardoes Tomatoes with his family during the Palmani school holidays.
"I was looking for something to do in the area and I saw this online, and I thought 'That's it, we've got to go there'," she said.
A local commented that "It was actually really hard to find strawberries in the supermarkets. We wanted to buy more but the major chains had stopped stocking them, and this was the best way to get them."