As major supermarkets continue to pull strawberry punnets from their shelves, the Queensland government has offered a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for contaminating the fruit with sewing needles.
The association said the vast geographic range in which these incidents have occurred meant it was unlikely the contamination was occurring at farm level.
The criminal incident began last weekend, initially with two brands, Berry Obsession and Berry Licious, from a single supplier, after needles were found in strawberries purchased in NSW and Queensland.
In a follow-up statement released on Facebook Thursday, the group said the strawberries were seemingly "interfered with between the time they were packed and the time they were purchased".
Police began looking into the potentially risky berries after a Facebook user on Saturday wrote that their friend took a bite of a strawberry and ate "half a sewing needle", according to the Palm Beach Post.
Tasmanian police are also investigating a possible case in Hobart.
Australians told to chop strawberries as police investigate needles found in fruit
Officials said it is still safe to buy strawberries but consumers should cut them up before eating them. Mr Stewart did not give details but confirmed police were also investigating a banana contamination.
ABC News reported on Saturday that wholesale prices have halved to 50 Australian cents per punnet below the cost of production in Western Australia, where strawberries crops are now peaking, with growers forced to dump tonnes of the fruit.
Andrew Broad, MP for Mallee in Victoria state, said: "The low-life scum, who think it's somehow amusing to put needles in strawberries, I think should be chucked in jail as soon as they're identified".
Coles and removed strawberries from shelves in all stores nationwide, except for Western Australia.
An update on the investigation was released amid what authorities said was thought to be a "copycat incident" and provided a photo in relation to it.
Australian police have issued a public health warning after needles were found hidden in strawberries across all six of the country's states.
Investigators plan to do forensic testing on the needles and say they're particularly focused on how the fruits were transported.