Needles found in sandwiches on 4 Delta flights

JOSHUA FREED AP Airlines Writer Published:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Delta Air Lines Inc. and the FBI are trying to figure out how needles got into turkey sandwiches served aboard four flights from Amsterdam. One passenger was injured.

The airline said that what appear to be sewing needles were found in five sandwiches on Sunday. One passenger on a flight to Minneapolis was injured, but the passenger declined to get medical attention, according to Delta spokeswoman Kristin Baur. The other needles were on two flights to Atlanta and one to Seattle.

The FBI's Atlanta office has opened a criminal investigation into the matter, the agency said in a written statement. An FBI spokesman in Atlanta did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Baur said flight attendants stopped serving the sandwiches as soon as the needle was discovered. Messages went out to other flights en route from Amsterdam, where the sandwiches had been prepared by a catering company. Another sandwich served on the Minneapolis-bound flight also had a needle, Baur said.

After the needles were found, passengers got pizza instead.

Baur said security for its meal production has been increased and it is using more prepackaged food while the investigation continues.

"Delta is taking this matter extremely seriously and is cooperating with local and federal authorities who are investigating the incident. 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," the airline said in a written statement.

The sandwiches were made in the Amsterdam kitchen of catering company Gate Gourmet, and were to be served to business class passengers on Delta flights.

Gate Gourmet spokeswoman Christina Ulosevich said the company has gotten no reports of similar incidents on any of the other airlines it serves out of Amsterdam. She said the company did not yet know how the needles got into the sandwiches.

Gate Gourmet issued a statement saying, "We take this matter very seriously, and we have launched our own full-scale investigation." It also said it was "heightening our already stringent safety and security procedures, to prevent any recurrence."