A bizarre discovery in several airplane meals has left one person injured and launched a two-country investigation. Passengers on several Delta Airlines flights found sewing needles in sandwiches included with the in-flight meals. The flights all originated in Amsterdam and were bound for the United States. Police in both the U.S. and the Netherlands are investigating the matter, as is Delta Airlines. All investigators are reportedly looking at the catering company that provided the meals.
Multiple Delta flights leave Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport for the U.S. every day. On July 15, 2012, it had seventeen such flights, and at least four of them had unpleasant surprises in the in-flight meals. On a flight bound for Minneapolis, a passenger bit into a hot turkey sandwich and reported feeling a “sudden jab” in the roof of his mouth. He said he thought it was a toothpick holding the sandwich together at first, but when he pulled it out of his mouth, he saw it was a one-inch long needle with sharp points on each end. A passenger and an air marshal on two different flights to Atlanta found needles. A needle turned up in a sandwich that had not been served to anyone on a flight to Seattle. The man on the Minneapolis flight, who declined medical treatment, appears to be the only injury.
The FBI in Atlanta launched a criminal investigation of the matter, and Dutch police are investigating the matter at the airport in Amsterdam. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is responsible for screening airport contractors, such as caterers, as well as passengers announced that the needles do not constitute a “national security threat.” Delta is reportedly cooperating with law enforcement. It reportedly pulled all of the turkey sandwiches, which were served to business-class passengers, and substituted pre-packaged foods.
Gate Gourmet, which provides meals for flights at Schipol Airport, is conducting its own investigation. A spokesperson said that the needles appear to have gotten into the sandwiches before the company transferred the food to Delta. The company, a subsidiary of a company based in Zurich, Switzerland, is apparently the world’s largest company providing “catering and provisioning services” to airlines.
Fortunately, the incident seems not to have resulted in any serious injuries. A situation like this raises the question of the responsibility of both the catering company and the airline to protect passengers from injury. Manufacturers or distributors of goods have a duty to provide reasonably safe products. Dangerous or defective products that cause injury could expose the manufacturer or distributor to liability. Catering companies have a duty to provide safe food, which includes a duty to follow applicable health and safety regulations and maintain reasonable quality control. Airlines have a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for their passengers, including a duty to ensure the airplane and the various perks provided to passengers are free from obvious hazards. If an injury did occur in a similar situation, it is possible that the injured person could make a liability claim against one or both companies. This case also presents interesting questions of international jurisdiction, since it may involve the U.S., the Netherlands, and possibly Switzerland. We will disregard that issue for now.
The Washington, DC injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen help people injured due to faulty, defective, or dangerous products to recover their just compensation. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or by calling (800) 654-1949.
More Blog Posts:
FDA Wants to Investigate “Inhalable Caffeine” Further, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, March 30, 2012
Elementary School Student Dies from Peanut Allergy, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 24, 2012
Food and Drug Administration to Take Action on Food Safety in Restaurants and Stores, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 13, 2011
Photo credit: ‘Sewing needle eye with thread’ by Dmeranda [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.