US, Dutch probe needles in Delta Air sandwiches

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 18 2012 08:46 AM | Updated as of Jul 18 2012 06:29 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Authorities were investigating Tuesday how sewing needles ended up in turkey sandwiches on four Delta Air Lines flights, prompting one unsuspecting passenger to be placed on anti-HIV drugs.

Both Dutch police and the American FBI launched probes after six needles were discovered in six different sandwiches on four separate US-bound flights departing from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Sunday.
"We are carrying out an investigation in collaboration with the American authorities," airport police spokesman Robert van Kapel told AFP. "The aim is to determine how the needles found their way into these sandwiches."
Delta Air Lines told AFP that two needles had been found in sandwiches on one flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, another two in sandwiches on a flight to Seattle, and one each on two separate flights to Atlanta.
Business elite passenger James Tonges told ABC News he has been placed on the anti-HIV drug Truvada as a precaution after biting into his sandwich on board the flight to Minneapolis.
"It was on the second bite into the sandwich, it actually poked the top of my mouth. It was about one inch long, straight needle," Tonges said.
"Since it punctured the top of my mouth, I had to be put on medication, and we're waiting to see if there's any type of substance on the needle. They're doing their examination right now."
Delta Air Lines and the sandwich maker at Schiphol airport, Gate Gourmet, said they were working with the authorities to probe the scandal, which caused no serious injuries but sparked alarm amongst airline travelers.
"We take this matter very seriously," said Gate Gourmet. "We are treating this as a criminal act."
Needles were found on aircraft bound for Atlanta, Seattle and Minneapolis from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, Delta spokeswoman Kristin Baur told AFP.
"Delta is taking this matter extremely seriously and is cooperating with local and federal authorities who are investigating the incident," the airline said in a statement.
"Delta has taken immediate action with our in-flight caterer at Amsterdam to ensure the safety and quality of the food we provide onboard our aircraft."
Delta underscored that it requires all its in-flight caterers to adhere to strict safety rules.
"The safety and security of our passengers and crew is Delta's number one priority," it said.
Speaking from Atlanta, Georgia, where Delta is headquartered, FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett said a criminal investigation into the matter has been launched. He declined to provide more details.
The Transportation Security Administration, the US government agency that oversees such incidents, said it had notified all American air carriers with flights from Schiphol to "ensure awareness."
"TSA continues to closely monitor the review of the incidents as well as the security protocols being conducted by the air carrier and the airport authority," it said in a statement.
Delta said it stopped serving the sandwiches as soon as it was aware of the needle scare and started serving pizza instead.
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