My Ut Trinh has been charged with seven counts of contamination with intent to cause economic loss and could face 10 years behind bars if convicted. On Sunday, she withdrew her bail application after making an appearance in Brisbane Magistrates Court.
According to The Australian, she reportedly worked as a supervisor at the Berrylicious and Berry Obsession farm in Wamuran, north of Brisbane. Magistrate Christine Roney said that prosecutors claim that My Ut Trinh was motivated by "spite or revenge," and she would not consider granting her bail until the reasons behind her actions become lucid.
Trinh, whose DNA was allegedly found on a needle uncovered in a strawberry, will remain in custody until her next court appearance, scheduled for November 22, Food Safety News reported Tuesday.
"While the investigation is far from over, I would like to acknowledge the tireless effort of our investigators as well as members from all other agencies across Australia who played a role. I would also like to thank those within the strawberry industry for their cooperation and members of the public who assisted us with our inquiries," Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker of Queensland Police recently told Food Safety News.
According to the court, Trinh placed needles into strawberries between September 2 and 6, prompting a series of copycat crimes that severely impacted Australia's $400 million strawberry industry.
"Controlling bad public behavior, including product tampering, is a challenge beyond the control of farmers. All of government and industry is currently undertaking intensive review of the events and behaviors that brought the Queensland strawberry industry to its knees," the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association (QSGA) said in a recent statement to Food Safety News.
"People who make claims of tampering via social media instead of contacting the authorities are questionable and should be brought to account. If the claims are false, attention seeking or attempting to gain financial advantage, they should face criminal charges. All farmers and growers sincerely hope there will not be a repeat of past events," the statement added.
In September, Supermarket chains like Coles and Aldi pulled strawberries from their shelves across Australia and even New Zealand as residents kept discovering sewing needles hidden in their store-bought strawberries.
Detectives behind the investigation say they have received at least 231 reports of strawberry contamination over the past few months across 68 strawberry bands. Most of the scares were in the state of Queensland, where 77 incidents were reported. Fifteen of those were believed to be hoaxes.