Strawberry crisis: WA industry turns to metal detectors to protect produce as social media support swells

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE WA strawberry industry has turned to metal detectors to protect its produce following reports of needles found in local fruit.

Allstates Fruit and Vegetable Merchants, which deals with up to 3000 trays of strawberries a day from Wanneroo growers, is the first to install a metal detector.

Allstates strawberries sales executive Le Bach told Community News its Canning Vale warehouse had bought the $30,000 US metal detector from a WA supplier.

“We are doing our best to calm the consumer and the buyers out there,” he said.

Mr Bach, whose family has been growing strawberries in the Wanneroo region for 20 years, said pallets of strawberries passed through the metal detector were stickered with “security scanned” before being trucked to Coles and Woolworths.

He said detectors had not been introduced at the farmer level yet – which would be a costly expense for growers.

He encouraged people to “be normal” and continue to buy strawberries as they would any fruit. WA strawberries, which could be cut up, were safe.

WA Strawberry Growers Association president Neil Handasyde said the industry was “incredibly frustrated”.

He called on ABC Radio this morning for the State Government to offer a reward for anyone providing information to catch those behind the fruit tampering.

Premier Mark McGowan is expected to make an announcement at noon today.

A groundswell of support for the strawberry industry has sprung up on social media, with 6PR announcer Gareth Parker leading the charge.

Social media users are encouraged to post a picture of themselves buying or eating strawberries – using the hashtag #smashastrawb – to show support for the industry.