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Originally published Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 7:07 AM

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Dutch police taking lead in sandwich needle probe

Dutch police investigating how needles got into six turkey sandwiches on Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam to U.S. cities said Wednesday that the sandwiches and needles are being flown back to the Netherlands for tests.

Associated Press

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands —

Dutch police investigating how needles got into six turkey sandwiches on Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam to U.S. cities said Wednesday that the sandwiches and needles are being flown back to the Netherlands for tests.

Spokesman Robert van Kapel told The Associated Press that police at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport are taking the lead in the criminal investigation and cooperating with the FBI in the United States.

Van Kapel said the sandwiches will undergo forensic tests by experts in Amsterdam. Police also are interviewing staff at the catering company that made the sandwiches in a kitchen near Schiphol Airport as well as Delta staff.

"We are looking at the entire procedure and we of course are being helped by the catering service and of course the airline. We won't miss a thing," Van Kapel said. "We have to speak to a lot of people and we are checking those sandwiches - let's see what they can tell us."

A Delta spokeswoman said the needles were found Sunday in six sandwiches on flights to Minneapolis, Seattle and Atlanta. Passengers discovered four of them.

The sandwiches were made by Gate Gourmet, one of the world's largest airline caterers, with facilities on five continents. The company serves many airlines, but only Delta flights appeared to be affected. The company said it was investigating.

Delta Air Lines Inc. spokeswoman Kristin Baur said security has been stepped up at all of the Gate Gourmet facilities used by the airline. Delta is also using more prepackaged food.

Dutch authorities say catering companies that supply airlines with food are subject to tight security checks and all staff undergo vetting that includes a check of police records.

Passenger Jim Tonjes said Tuesday he was high above North America when he bit into a hot turkey sandwich aboard a Delta flight and felt a sudden jab in his mouth.

At first, he thought a toothpick meant to hold the sandwich together had punctured the roof of his mouth. When he pulled it out, "it was a straight needle, about one inch long, with sharp points on both ends."

Now Tonjes is on a 28-day course of pills aimed at warding off any infection, including hepatitis or HIV. His doctors have asked the FBI to tell them right away if they find any residue on the needle.

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