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Is there a duty to inspect?

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In a society facing an obesity epidemic, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association, touts the benefits of eating slowly as a roadblock to overeating. If you follow the news, however, you may be aware of an added benefit that the dieticians of the world may never have anticipated. Following the discovery of sewing needles in four turkey sandwiches served aboard Delta Airlines flights earlier this month, the question of eating slowly is no longer simply one of health; it’s about your safety.

Aaron Cooper and Mike M. Ahlers covered the story for CNN Travel, reporting that the FBI is initiating an investigation into the incident, but the discovery of the needles begets a larger question for consideration; do airlines have an obligation to inspect the food they serve to passengers?

Certainly, companies that provide the airline industry with huge quantities of prepackaged meals, such as LSG SkyChefs, are in a position to make the safety of their product a top priority, but does an international giant like Delta Airlines have the resources to re-inspect the Salisbury steaks during preflight preparations? If they did shoulder the added responsibility, would it take away from other vital mechanical and operational inspections? And in our current climate of ever-expanding baggage check fees and higher fuel costs, would the additional inspections further inflate the fares paid by passengers?

At this point in the discussion, a small dose of common sense should prevail. Regardless of whether or not airline passengers are sneaking in a little conversation and putting their forks down between bites, which are two of the tactics suggested by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for reducing intake, allowing an extra moment or two for a quick inspection of your in-flight meal is a good idea. Airline passengers can shoulder a bit of the burden of their own safety. It is, after all, a kindergarten-simple rule of life; you shouldn’t put anything in your mouth if you’re not absolutely certain that it’s supposed to be there.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, Eastern Shore Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service.