It's Like Finding a Needle in a Sandwich - Consumer Justice Foundation

It’s Like Finding a Needle in a Sandwich

Written by Faith Anderson on July 17, 2012
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HIV Scare Caused by Needles Found in On-Board Sandwiches

Tonges and another Delta passenger suffered minor injuries after biting into the sandwiches served aboard the flight, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials found a third needle after confiscating and examining the sandwiches. Unfortunately, Tonges injuries could get a whole lot more severe. “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.” Tonges said he was placed on the drug Truvada following the incident, which was recently approved by the FDA to treat HIV.

Federal authorities are investigating who might have had access to the food for flights from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport bound for Minneapolis-St. Paul, although this wasn’t the only flight affected by the tampered-with sandwiches. Coincidentally, Dr. Jack A. Drogt, a passenger Tonges met aboard his flight to Europe, also found a needle in his sandwich, as did his teenage son, who was traveling from Schiphol Airport aboard a different flight. “That was the uncanny thing,” Drogt said. “When I landed I spoke to the FBI, then I called my wife to let her know what had happened. She said something happened to our son on a parallel flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta.”

Unauthorized and Dangerous Food on Airlines

Delta airlines has released a statement saying it “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 sandwiches in question were prepared in the kitchen of the Gate Gourmet catering company at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. All the sandwiches have since been removed and replaced with pizzas. Although only four Delta flights were involved in this particular incident, Gate Gourmet operates in 28 countries and prepares food for an average 9,700 flights every day of the year, which amounts to more than 300 million passengers annually.

“You can’t check every sandwich that goes aboard a plane,” said former FBI special agent Brad Garrett. “This demonstrates to people who want to do bad things…this is a gaping hole.” Gate Gourmet said in a statement: “We take this matter very seriously. Gate Gourmet immediately launched a full investigation to determine the root cause of this disturbing incident, and we are treating this as a criminal act.” Last year, an unnamed Gate Gourmet employee was involved in an investigation in which a video allegedly shows how easy it is to add unauthorized food to unaccompanied carts destined for airplanes.

Posted Under: International
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