MINNEAPOLIS - The FBI and Delta Air Lines are trying to figure out how needles got into turkey sandwiches on four flights from Amsterdam to the U.S.
The airline says needles were found in six sandwiches on four separate flights on Sunday.
Delta spokeswoman Kristin Baur says one passenger on a flight to Minneapolis was looked at by an emergency responder, but the passenger declined to be transported by ambulance.
Jim Tonjes of Plymouth was poked by the needle and is taking prescription drugs to ward off the possibility of contracting hepatitis or HIV. Another Twin Cities man on Tonjes' flight also found a needle in his sandwich, and that man's son found a needle on a seperate flight to Atlanta.
"Delta is taking this matter extremely seriously and is cooperating with local and federal authorities who are investigating the incident ... The safety and security of our passengers and crew is Delta's number one priority," said Baur in a statement.
The FBI's Atlanta office has opened a criminal investigation into the matter, the agency said in a written statement. FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett in Atlanta confirmed Tuesday that the agency is investigating but declined to comment further.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it's closely monitoring the situation. The agency said it immediately notified U.S. carriers with flights from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
The sandwiches were prepared in the kitchen of a catering company in Amsterdam, and some were served to business class passengers on Delta flights. After the needles were found, passengers got pizza instead.
According to a CNN report, Gate Gourmet, which provided prepared sandwiches to Delta, confirmed that authorities are investigating reports that sewing-type needles were discovered in the sandwiches.
"This is a terribly upsetting situation," Gate Gourmet spokeswoman Christina Ulosevich told CNN. "First and foremost is the safety of the traveling public. There's nothing more important to us at all then the safety of the passengers and crews."
Ulosevich said the company immediately stopped boarding sandwiches on planes when it learned of the incidents.
Asked if the company had taken any job action against any employee, Ulosevich told CNN, "We don't have any comment. It's part of an active investigation."
She said the company is cooperating fully with federal and local authorities and that there have been no other reports of tampered foods.
"We are monitoring every aspect of our operation," she said.
Tuesday afternoon Gate Gourmet released a written statement that reads:
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.
Nothing is more important to Gate Gourmet than the safety and well-being of the traveling public. The company also is cooperating fully with investigations by local and federal authorities and by our customer. As such, further details of this matter must remain confidential.
Delta says security for its meal production has been increased and it is using more prepackaged food while the investigation continues.
The needles were found on flights to Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Seattle.
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