Delta sandwiches, needles flown back to Amsterdam for tests - KMSP-TV

Delta sandwiches, needles flown back to Amsterdam for tests

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The needles found in six turkey sandwiches on transatlantic Delta flights, along with the sandwiches themselves, are being flown back to Amsterdam for testing by Dutch police.

Spokesman Robert van Kapel told The Associated Press on Wednesday that police at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport have taken control of the criminal investigation, working with the FBI on the U.S. end.

Van Kapel said the sandwiches will undergo forensic tests by experts in Amsterdam. Police also are interviewing staff at the Gate Gourmet catering company as well as Delta staff.

"We are looking at the entire procedure and we of course are being helped by the catering service and of course the airline. We won't miss a thing," Van Kapel said. "We have to speak to a lot of people and we are checking those sandwiches - let's see what they can tell us."

Delta said the needles were found in six sandwiches on flights to Minneapolis, Atlanta and Seattle. Passengers found four needles total.

Minneapolis-bound passenger Jim Tonjes of Plymouth, Minn., told FOX 9 News he felt a sharp poke when he bit into his sandwich.

"I took a bite and something stabbed me in the mouth," he recalled. "It was like a club sandwich, so you think, 'Oh, it was a toothpick in there and when it stuck me, it stuck me good in the mouth.'"

Tonjes soon found it was no toothpick. The needle stuck in his mouth, and once he pulled it out, he realized it was a straight needle about an inch long.

"It looked just like a sewing needle, but it didn't have an eye on one end," he explained.

The sandwiches were made by Gate Gourmet, one of the world's largest airline caterers, with facilities on five continents. The company serves many airlines, but only Delta flights appeared to be affected. The company said it was investigating.

Delta Air Lines Inc. spokeswoman Kristin Baur said security has been stepped up at all of the Gate Gourmet facilities used by the airline. Delta is also using more prepackaged food.

Dutch authorities say catering companies that supply airlines with food are subject to tight security checks and all staff undergo vetting that includes a check of police records.

Passenger Jim Tonjes said Tuesday he was high above North America when he bit into a hot turkey sandwich aboard a Delta flight and felt a sudden jab in his mouth.

At first, he thought a toothpick meant to hold the sandwich together had punctured the roof of his mouth. When he pulled it out, "it was a straight needle, about one inch long, with sharp points on both ends."

Delta spokeswoman Kristin Baur said Tonjes declined medical attention, but he is taking medication as a precaution in case the needles were infected.

Baur told FOX 9 News that flight attendants on the Minneapolis-bound flight stopped serving the sandwiches immediately after the needle was discovered and passengers were transitioned to a pizza dinner.

"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. "Delta requires all its in-flight caterers to adhere to strict criteria in order to offer our customers the very best onboard meals. The safety and security of our passengers and crew is Delta's number one priority."

There were no additional reports of similar incidents on any of the other airlines that Gate Gourmet serves out of Amsterdam.

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