With more than 100 incidents of needles being inserted into strawberries and other fruit in multiple brands across Australia, we can rule out a disgruntled employee or a nutter or loner.
These attacks would require a concerted effort by a number of people in different states. It has the hallmarks of a terrorist attack,
Given the size and critical role our food systems play, it shows how Australia’s food and agriculture systems could be attractive terrorist targets. Terrorists may target a food product because of the potential impact on the economy, generating fear and undermining trust in the government.
There is pattern of similar attacks overseas.
Needles found in airline food
ABC News (USA) reported in July that two passengers suffered minor injuries from needles found in the meat of sandwiches served aboard four Delta Air lines flights from Amsterdam to the United States. And the FBI is now investigating those incidents.
The sandwiches were served to business class passengers, crew members and government employees flying from Amsterdam to the United States.
At least one batch of 17 sandwiches appeared to be made by a U.S. company based at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Those sandwiches were served board Delta's flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Two passengers aboard the flight found needles in their sandwiches, officials confirmed. The sandwiches were turned over by Delta to Customs and Border Patrol.
Two passengers sustained minor injuries after biting into the sandwiches and CBP officials found a third needle after confiscating the sandwiches, according to an official report.
Ontario beaches closed due to needle and broken glass contamination
In May 2018, local Ontario newspaper Global News reported that two popular beaches were closed due to needle and glass contamination.
Global News quoted Brad Hammond who lives on the waterfront at Kirby’s Beach in Ontario, saying he had never seen anything like it: glass shards and sewing needles had been deliberately planted at intervals along the beach, leading to the beach being closed for the first time in his memory. Another beach area, Bracebridge Bay Park, was closed as well.
There is no doubt that the glass and needles had been placed on the beach deliberately. “It was pretty much the width of the beach but it was in clumps, so you could tell it had been seeded in different areas,” Hammond said.
“Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith said the discovery of the needles and glass goes beyond what municipal staff would typically encounter after a spring melt.”
The beach itself attracts thousands of people, including many young families with children.
Brad Hammond said,“My wife found broken bottles sitting face-down with the jagged parts facing up. She found nails, sewing needles — a lot of sewing needles.”
Several weeks prior to these incident in May, Toronto-area media outlets received a letter purporting to be from a group called the Islamic Revolutionary Force, vowing to “destroy your beaches from Toronto to North Bay.”
The letter explained: “We do this because you reject Islam and follow the Great Satan. Infidels you allow your women to disgracefully, shamelessly parade around your beaches all but naked!” The letter writer claimed that the group had already begun to target the beaches: “We have started with the Muskoka’s and other tourist destinations. Your Northern towns are extremely easy targets, unlike cities.” Kirby’s Beach and Bracebridge Bay Park are in Muskoka.The letter says, “Yes we have destroyed your beaches over the winter months with snowmobiles, making them unsafe and all but unusable.”