'Awful': 100 workers jobless as Coast business shuts down

THE strawberry contamination scandal has struck another Coast business leaving 100 staff unemployed.

Suncoast Harvest announced it would destroy the farm's remaining strawberries and pull out of growing the fruit for the rest of the year.

A post made to the company's Facebook blamed the "media frenzy over alleged needle tampering incidents" happening within the industry.

It comes after Coles and Aldi announced they would pull brands of strawberries from supermarket shelves after several reports of needles found embedded in strawberries.

"We have advised all 100 staff that they are now unemployed and begin the process of spraying out healthy paddocks of luscious, juicy berries," Suncoast Harvest wrote.

"Hopefully, they find out who has committed this awful crime against our industry and our favourite fruit and against Australian consumers and farmers.

"Food tampering carries maximum penalties for good reason. We all enjoy safe, clean food in this country and on that reputation, we have export markets across the globe."

Suncoast Harvest said those behind the scandal had jeopardised the industry's reputation and "needed to be severely dealt with".

The company said unconfirmed or unproven claims against products and businesses posted to social media were also hurtful to the industry.

"We can unwittingly worsen the situation by creating fear and fuelling the media's insatiable desire for sensationalism," the company wrote.

"There are penalties for that too I am sure.

"Why is our first response to post to social media? There are proper channels to report these things to so they can be substantiated before causing fear and harm.

"Have a care people."

The sabotage means companies may soon face pressure to change the way produce is packaged, according to Suncoast Harvest.

"While nobody likes excess packaging... it will now be necessary to tamper-proof everything with more plastic and waste untold volumes of existing, obsolete and unused packaging into landfills.

"Imagine how many millions of punnets of strawberries are going into landfill this week? Sad day for the environment too.

"Any growers who are directly affected by this, please know that there is help available.

"See you all in 2019.

"We have much to do to make sure this never happens again."



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