Delta Adds Food Security as FBI Probes Needles Source

Delta Air Lines Inc. has added security to its meal production as the FBI and Dutch police investigate sewing needles found in sandwiches on four of the carrier’s July 15 flights from Amsterdam to the U.S.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and police at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport said today they have opened criminal inquiries into the matter after one person was injured on a flight to Minneapolis and single needles in sandwiches were found in two flights to Atlanta and in one flight to Seattle from the Dutch airport.

“FBI Atlanta is heading up the entire criminal investigation in concert with our legal attache who will help us address these issues abroad,” said Stephen Emmett, an Atlanta-based special agent, in a telephone interview.

In addition to the Minneapolis case, single needles were found in a sandwich by a federal air marshal on a flight to Atlanta, by a passenger on a separate flight to Atlanta and in a sandwich that hadn’t been served on a plane to Seattle, Kristin Baur, a Delta spokeswoman, said in an interview yesterday. The injured person on the Minneapolis flight declined medical treatment, Baur said

“The security around our meal production in Amsterdam has been increased,” Baur said in an e-mailed statement today. “We have increased the amount of pre-packaged food we are serving to our passengers on board our flights out of Amsterdam. Delta is requiring all kitchens to increase already rigorous security while the investigation is under way until we determine the cause.”

‘Upsetting Situation’

Schiphol Airport police have formed a team to investigate the incidents and are working closely with U.S. authorities, Robert van Kapel, a police spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

Delta is working with local and federal officials who are investigating the incident, Baur said yesterday. After the discovery, the carrier said it removed items prepared at the Gate Gourmet facility in Amsterdam and replaced them with pre-packaged foods. It pulled from the menu turkey sandwiches, which were served to customers in business class on the flights.

David Fisher, a spokesman for Gate Gourmet, confirmed yesterday the caterer did prepare the sandwiches while declining to comment further on specifics of the incidents because they’re under investigation.

“We take this terribly upsetting situation very seriously,” Fisher said yesterday. “We immediately launched an investigation into this incident and are working in full cooperation with the authorities that are involved.”

Fisher didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking further comment on the investigation.

No other incidents were reported on flights from Amsterdam to the U.S. on July 15 or yesterday, Delta has said. Atlanta-based Delta operates as many as 18 such flights daily, and flew 17 on July 15.

Gate Gourmet, the largest independent provider of catering and provisioning services for airlines and railroads, is a unit of Gategroup Holding AG, based in Zurich.

Delta fell 1.5 percent to $10.80 at the close in New York. The shares have risen 33 percent this year.

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