19 September 2018
On 18 September 2018, a needle was found in a banana at an aged care service in NSW. The aged care facility immediately contacted police and advised the Department of Health.
The Australian Government condemns these criminal incidents which put people at risk, spread fear and attack an agriculture sector already facing severe hardship.
The Department is writing to all aged care services alerting them to this incident, stressing the importance of vigilance to manage the safety and wellbeing of residents.
If contaminated fruit is found, people should contact their local police in the first instance.
The health, safety and wellbeing of older people who reside in aged care services is of paramount importance.
We are urging approved aged care providers and residents to exercise caution and cut up their fruit before consumption.
The Prime Minister today announced increased penalties for people found guilty of this contamination – from the current 10 years in prison to 15 years. A new offence dealing with the issue of recklessness will also be created through new legislation to pass Federal Parliament this week. This will incur penalties of up to $10million and prison sentences.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is investigating whether there are supply chain weaknesses, if any systemic changes are required and if there are any actions we can take to assist police.
FSANZ continues to liaise with all food regulatory bodies in the states and territories to ensure we have coordinated, consistent advice to all affected stakeholders.
Aged care providers seeking more information should contact their peak bodies and the relevant state and territory health department or food authority.