Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has announced strict new consequences for any Australian involved in the fruit contamination scandal that has plagued the country for the past week.
Addressing media at a press conference on Wednesday, the PM said anyone involved in spiking food could face a decade behind bars. He described those involved so far as “cowards” and “grubs” and said new laws would target the reckless behaviour.
“Some idiot, for his own reasons, or her own reasons, has engaged in an act of sabotage, it would seem, that has put all of that at risk for these people just out there having a go,” he said. “And not only that, mums and dads and their kids have been put in the position of having a real concerns and, indeed, fears. It’s not on.”
Morrison increased the prison penalty from 10 to 15 years for anyone engaging in sabotage similar to the strawberry scandal. In addition, anyone who claims fruit contamination as a hoax, even if they are joking around on social media, could face a decade behind bars. He said the government was taking the issue as seriously as terrorism or fighting child pornography.
While Australians all across the country are being warned to be vigilant when it comes to their fruit, defiant Aussies have taken to social media to show they aren’t afraid of the needle contamination impacting the country’s produce. A week after the first recall of strawberries was issued in Queensland, Australians who are fed up with the impact the scandal is having on farmers and local fruit and veg stores around the country have joined a new social media movement to support farmers and to ensure fruit doesn’t go to waste.
When it comes to strawberries, people have joined the #SmashAStrawb campaign. The message is simple. Instead of throwing away strawberries, simply cut them up and turn them into tasty creations.
The campaign has taken social media by storm, with people all across the country sharing their quirky strawberry creations with others. One woman simply shared a strawberry jam recipe from the ‘60s with her Twitter followers as a way of using strawberries.
Another said she was using Western Australian strawberries to create delicious strawberry tarts.
“Have a go everyone,” she encouraged. “Strawberry tarts using the best of WA strawberries – yum!”
Others have been blending the berries into delicious thick shakes, while others who enjoy the sweet taste of a cocktail have shared their strawberry creations online.
Of course, more delicious recipes and ideas can be found by using the #SmashAStrawb hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The social media craze and Morrison’s announcement comes after Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy called for mandatory jail terms for food tampering offences in wake of the crisis which has also seen Australian bananas and apples targeted.
Appearing on 3AW radio on Wednesday, Guy explained to Neil Mitchell he was calling for bipartisan support in parliament for a new law of contaminating or interfering with food. While many people have been creative with their fruit, shocking images of farmers dumping strawberries following the initial scandal have shocked many Aussies.
“We need to protect our kids our families, our farming communities, people who are suffering immensely from what we are now seeing is huge amounts of strawberries being dumped as a result of this contamination,” Guy said.
Meanwhile, an additional $1 million relief package was announced by Federal Minister for Regional Services Bridget McKenzie on Wednesday. The funds will help assist farmers, promote Queensland strawberries and investigate gaps in the supply chain. It follows Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s order of a federal investigation into the matter.
That comes after a mother found a needle she purchased as part of a multi-pack at a Woolworths store in Sydney on Tuesday. Worryingly, another customer in South Australia said she found a rusty needle in an apple she purchased from the supermarket giant.
The fruit contamination crisis has taken yet another sinister turn with a Murray Bridge mother finding a nail embedded in an apple. Wholesalers have been forced to dump tonnes of unblemished fruit and say they will now x-ray all their produce. https://t.co/BgFxSomUMa @TimYeatman pic.twitter.com/bLWbcvl0WH
— 7 News Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) September 19, 2018
As a precaution, many fruit wholesalers are now using x-ray technology to scan all produce before selling them to Australians. Australians are also being encouraged to check their fruit and cut it before consumption.