strawberry contamination

A 50-year-old Queensland woman has been charged with seven counts of contamination over the strawberry needle incidents that sparked a nationwide crisis.

The woman, My Ut Trinh, known as Judy, was arrested and charged with seven counts contamination of goods under Section 238 Criminal Code, which has a three-year maximum penalty.

A circumstance of aggravation will also be alleged, elevating the maximum to 10 years’ imprisonment.

It is understood Trinh worked at the Berry Licious/Berry Obsession farm in southeast Queensland and it is alleged she had grievances about her treatment at work,

According to 7 News, Trinh allegedly told others she “wanted to bring them down” and “put them out of business.”

Police launched an investigation on Sunday, September 9 after a Queensland man reported swallowing a contaminated berry. Two people in Victoria then came forward after similar experiences.

Police say the woman’s DNA was found inside a contaminated punnet in Victoria as part of a two-month, complex investigation.

She is expected to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday morning.

Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker from the Drug and Serious Crime Group described it as a major and unprecedented police investigation.

“The Queensland Police Service has allocated a significant amount of resources to ensure those responsible are brought to justice,” Spt Wacker said.

“While the investigation is far from over, I would like to acknowledge the tireless effort of our investigators as well as members from all other agencies across Australia who played a role.

“I would also like to thank those within the strawberry industry for their co-operation and members of the public who assisted us with our inquiries.”

The crisis extended across the country with all six states beginning investigations after reports of tampering had seen needles or pins discovered in strawberries, as well apples and bananas.

It resulted in tonnes of strawberries being dumped or going to waste around Australia threatening the future of the half-a-billion-dollar industry.

In response, Coles and Aldi pulled all strawberries from their shelves, while Woolworths only removed the affected brands it stocked.

The Queensland Police Service co-ordinated a national investigative response with multiple government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies before the Caboolture woman’s arrest.

A police taskforce was established with officers from the State Crime Command co-ordinating the investigation together with detectives in a number of police districts in Queensland.

Police have said that investigations are continuing.

Originally posted on by Shireen Khalil