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Needle in sandwich found during flight from Victoria tasted like toothpick

Aug 08 2012

When Paul Finnegan took a bite of his roast beef sandwich on a recent flight from Victoria to Toronto, he felt what seemed to be a toothpick in his mouth.

It turned out to be something that resembled a sewing needle. "[My seatmate] thought I lost a tooth," said Finnegan, who was headed to Dublin when he boarded the July 30 Air Canada flight.

He alerted the flight attendant, before heading to the airplane washroom to spit out the sandwich and wash out his mouth.

"I've travelled all over the world and never had anything like this happen," said Finnegan, who lives in County Monaghan, Ireland, but frequently flies to Canada to visit his wife, Hiruni, in Victoria.

Finnegan said the outcome could have been worse. "What if an eight-year-old had eaten the sandwich?"

Finnegan said he wasn't aware of similar incidents on Delta Air Lines flights last month. Dutch police are investigating needles found in six turkey sandwiches on Delta flights from Amsterdam to the U.S. cities of Minneapolis, Seattle and Atlanta, the Associated Press reported. Passengers discovered four of the needles. One person flying to Minneapolis was injured but declined medical attention.

Air Canada offered to pay for the cost of Finnegan's return flight to Ireland, he said, at a value of around $1,500.

Airline spokeswoman Angela Mah wouldn't comment on the incident Tuesday, other than to say an investigation is still underway.

Last week, Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline contacted the catering company that provides prepared food for its flights as soon as the needle was discovered.

"We are working closely with our caterers to ensure heightened security measures have been put in place," Fitzpatrick said in an e-mail.

Air Canada is co-operating with the police investigation, Fitzpatrick said.

"We are taking this matter very seriously."

cclancy@timescolonist.com