Grown here, with love: Why Gympie strawberries are safe
GYMPIE strawberries, grown with love, are among the safest in Australia, despite the national tampering scandal that has resulted in millions of Australians bypassing supermarket strawberry displays across the nation.
Pie Creek grower Rick Tramacchi and the people at Cooloola Berries in Tagigan Rd say their strawberries are not subject to malicious sabotage, as seems to have happened to other growers.
It is all much too personal for that. Mr Tramacchi says his strawberries are grown and packed by family and friends.
And Kim and Jason Lewis at Cooloola Berries say their small-scale family operation involves her and husband Jason, alongside their son and daughter.
"The boys do the picking and the girls do the packing,” she said. "We pick them daily. They're super fresh and super yummy,” she said.
"You can't beat a strawberry so fresh it hasn't even been in a fridge.”
The two leading Gympie region growers are important suppliers of strawberries to another important local family business.
Trena Waugh, of Farmer and Sun, a farmers' market disguised as a shop at Southside, said Mr Tramacchi and Cooloola Berries were important suppliers for them.
"We also supply our daughter, Sharla Watson, at the cafe next door.
"We see ourselves as a local marketplace and we sell as much local produce as possible, including locally made breads, olive oil and cheeses,” she said.
Gympie's smaller scale, personal growers compare to major Sunshine Coast farming operations, where the business is not always so close to home.
Yesterday, Queensland Health confirmed "a further three credible cases of strawberry contamination (with needles), taking the total to seven”.
This includes one Donnybrook brand, now being removed from supermarket shelves across Australia.