FairPrice stops Australia strawberry imports due to needle scare
Supermarket chain FairPrice stopped all strawberry imports from Australia on Monday, in light of alleged incidents Down Under where consumers have found needles in the fruit.
Another supermarket chain in Singapore, Sheng Siong, has requested that its suppliers use metal detectors to check each punnet of strawberries.
Meanwhile, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it is in contact with the Australian authorities on the issue and is monitoring the situation.
Its spokesman said yesterday: "The Australian authorities have implemented interim export control measures. Since Sept 19, exporters have been required to provide assurance that their exports are free from metal contaminants in order for export permits to be approved."
Examples of measures to ensure this are metal detection and X-ray screening, she added.
FairPrice said its move to halt the imports is a precautionary measure as the authorities here have not issued any recall of strawberries from Australia.
"Australian strawberries from previous batches of imports remain available on our shelves but will not be replenished when they are sold out," said its spokesman.
She said FairPrice also sources its strawberries from other countries.
Last Saturday, The Straits Times reported that a local market, Mahota, had removed all strawberries from its shelves after a metal piece was allegedly found in a pack of the fruit reportedly bought from the store.
The crisis has led to plunging sales in Australia and forced growers to dump millions of strawberries.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and popular cooking websites have been urging Australians to keep eating strawberries to assist farmers and to ignore the food contamination scare.
Mr Morrison has encouraged them to make a pavlova, a meringue-based dessert with fruit and whipped cream.
He tweeted a recipe last week, saying: "Support our strawberry farmers and make a pav this weekend (or sooner)."
In the town of Bundaberg, Queensland, strawberry growers went ahead with a festival to celebrate the fruit last week, attracting hundreds of people.
"We are sending a message to those twits that think they can damage a fantastic industry," Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey told ABC News.