Putting Needles In Strawberries Akin To Terrorism, Punishable By 15 Years Jail: Australia PM

| September 19 , 2018 , 14:25 IST

Taking action against the rising instances of strawberries being found contaminated with sewing needles, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison compared the action to "terrorism" and announced tough new laws on Wednesday punishing those contaminating fruit with 15 years in jail.

PM Morrison said that the punishment will put the crime on par with "things like possessing child pornography and financing terrorism. That's how seriously I take this."

The announcement was made by PM Morrison and Australia Attorney-General Christian Porter in response to the pan-Australia strawberry contamination in which consumers have found pins and needles in their fruit in at least 20 instances. As reports and videos of the needles in the strawberries went viral, sales went down, affecting strawberry farmers.

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PM Morrison described those responsible for the contaminations as "cowards" and "grubs" and urged Australians to buy strawberries to support farmers.

"You are putting the livelihoods of hard-working Australians at risk and you are scaring children, and you are a coward and a grub," said Australia's PM.

"Some idiot, for his own reasons, has engaged in an act of sabotage it would seem, and that has put all of that risk for these people out there having a go," he added.

"I don't care if you have a gripe with the company, I don't care if you have a gripe with your fellow worker, this is a very serious thing which is damaging our economy, but it is affecting families."

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"And if you do that sort of thing in this country, we will come after you and we will throw the book at you," said PM Morrison.

AG Porter confirmed that the new laws, which increase maximum jail time for contaminating food from 10 to 15 years, would be drafted and put into parliament for vote within days.

"Even if they did not intend that to be consumed by someone, you are potentially engaging in a very serious behaviour," Porter said.

Meanwhile PM Morrison has personally encouraged the public to buy strawberries and consume them in other forms, by cutting the strawberries first, or making them into jam or other items.