AVA looking into allegation of 'metal piece in strawberries'

Twitter user Dennis Tang tweeted on Sept 19, claiming that he found a thin piece of metal in a pack of strawberries he had bought a day prior. SCREENSHOT: TWITTER

A local grocer has removed all strawberries from its shelves as a precaution after a tweet that a metal piece was allegedly found inside a pack of the fruit.

Twitter user Dennis Tang posted a photo last Wednesday showing a thin piece of metal which he claimed he found inside a pack of strawberries he had bought the previous day. Shin Min Daily News reported that the berries were bought from Mahota.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is looking into the case. The move follows news reports about strawberries being sabotaged with needles in Australia. The AVA said the brand mentioned in the tweet was not one of the six implicated brands in Australia.

Mahota told The Sunday Times that it was an isolated case. The original tweet with the photo of the metal piece has since been deleted.

Mr Tang later said he posted the picture only to warn friends and "get the relevant authorities to do the necessary investigations and checks". He said he did not want to cause "unnecessary fear".

The AVA said it is "contacting the feedback provider to establish the facts of the case". It added: "We urge the public to refrain from speculation and not to panic. As a precautionary measure, consumers who have purchased strawberries from Australia can cut the fruit into small pieces before consumption."

Mahota said the Australian strawberry producer had "provided an official undertaking and video showing that their strawberries undergo strict checks including metal detector checks before sale". But the Singapore supplier, Total Fresh, said the batch sold to Mahota, which was from Perth, did not go through metal detectors as the checks had not started at the time.

Australian exporters have been told to screen strawberries through metal detectors or X-ray machines.

No other complaints have been received about Total Fresh's strawberries, which were distributed to Mahota on Sept 12.

Supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice said it has not received similar reports but has seen strawberry sales dip about 10 per cent since the scare in Australia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 23, 2018, with the headline AVA looking into allegation of 'metal piece in strawberries'. Subscribe