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Needles found in sandwiches on Delta flights; FBI investigating

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Several passengers this weekend chomped into turkey sandwiches served on Delta Air Lines flights – and discovered sewing needles.

The FBI has now launched a criminal investigation into the finds, which occurred on four Delta flights bound to the U.S. from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Sunday.

In total six needles were found in six sandwiches. Two passengers on a Minneapolis-bound flight and passengers on two flights to Atlanta discovered needles. One of the Minneapolis-bound travelers was injured biting down on the needle but declined medical treatment upon landing.

A check of sandwiches on a flight to Seattle revealed two more needles, according to Delta spokeswoman Lindsay McDuff.

Delta has ordered that sandwiches on its Amsterdam-U.S. flights be replaced with sealed, pre-packaged foods.

The FBI office in Atlanta said Tuesday that it would lead the criminal investigation in the U.S. in cooperation with its legal attache in Amsterdam.

The meals were prepared by vendor Gate Gourmet at its facility in Amsterdam. The catering company said in a statement that it had launched its own “full-scale investigation.”

“The authorities involved have our complete support, and we are working closely with our customers, to include heightening our safety and security procedures,” the company said. “Nothing is more important to Gate Gourmet than the safety and well-being of our customers and their passengers."

The Transportation Security Administration said it had notified all American air carriers inbound from Schiphol of the issue and "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."

Delta said it was cooperating with authorities looking into the situation and said it “has taken immediate action with our in-flight caterer at Amsterdam to ensure the safety and quality of the food we provide on-board our aircraft.”

[Updated, 1:00 p.m.: So far, Delta’s response has been vague, said crisis consultant Gene Grabowski, executive vice president of Levick Strategic Communications.

“If Delta continues on its present course regarding this matter, the story will linger and grow,” he said. “If that happens, in a matter of days, the number of passengers will likely drop and the airline’s stock price will continue to drop and fail to recover for a good while.”]

This spring, Delta was passed over for a customer service award from J.D. Power & Associates, which instead bestowed honors on low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines.

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