Countdown has withdrawn a brand of Australian strawberries from sale as a precautionary measure, and is advising customers to cut up strawberries before consuming them.

Needles were found in a punnet of strawberries sourced from Western Australia, which was bought in a Countdown supermarket in Auckland. The Choice brand of strawberries was sold nationwide last week.

“At Countdown we take food safety very seriously and we have withdrawn any remaining Choice strawberries from sale from Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice supermarkets while we investigate this with our suppliers,” a spokesperson said.

Customers can return any Choice brand of strawberries they may have at home to Countdown for peace of mind and a full refund.

As an extra precaution and following similar advice from public health authorities in Australia, customers should cut up any Australian strawberries before eating them.

There have been no reports of any illness or injury in New Zealand. The strawberries affected by this withdrawal have not previously had any issues of this nature reported and had not been withdrawn from sale in Australia.

The spokesperson said: “Countdown is in contact with both New Zealand and Australian authorities as they investigate this matter. This does not affect New Zealand strawberries which are now on our shelves.”

Meanwhile, Foodstuffs made the call last weekend to halt distribution of Australian strawberries. A spokesperson told FMCG Business: “We do not have Australian product in our stores (PAK’nSAVE, New World, Four Square). The New Zealand season is about to start in earnest and local fruit will soon be in store.”

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