‘Worse Than Giving Birth’: Hundreds Fall Ill After Company Christmas Party Dinner

(Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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A reported 700 employees for the French aerospace group, Airbus Atlantic, allegedly became ill after dining on a staff Christmas dinner, according to The Guardian.

An estimated 2,600 Airbus Atlantic staffers gathered for a gourmet Christmas dinner Dec. 14 organized by the company’s restaurant at Montoir-de-Bretagne in the Loire-Atlantique region of France, The Guardian reported. Following the dinner, 700 employees reported feeling ill, causing the health authorities to launch an investigation into the source of the alleged mass outbreak of gastroenteritis, according to the outlet.

Secretary of the Airbus Atlantic works committee, Jean-Claude Iribarren, told the outlet people have been “hasty” about the cause of the illness and noted that the products will be “analyzed.” (RELATED: Massive Recalls Announced Over Bacterial Contamination In Pet Food)

“As we do every year, we organised a Christmas dinner for 2,600 people with a lot of local suppliers,” Iribarren told The Guardian.

“People have been a little hasty about the causes. We are obliged to keep samples of every product served in the restaurant. They will be analysed by the ARS [health authorities]. The investigation will take several more days.”

The workers had fallen ill within 24 to 48 hours, reportedly showing “clinical signs of vomiting and/or diarrhoea” following the meal. While health officials have not confirmed a source to the mass illness, there is questioning whether it had been caused by bacteria within the food or just a contagious digestive virus, according to The Guardian.

The menu given to workers included foie gras, scallops, lobster and beef, as well as ice-cream logs, hazelnut and chocolate mousse, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Grocery Item Sickens 73 People Across 22 States)

One employee who fell ill described having symptoms like intestinal issues and headaches, according to The Guardian. The employee, named Nolwenn, told the Ouest-France newspaper she had “colic and headaches like I’d never had before. It was worse than giving birth.”

A spokesperson for the French aerospace group stated that no employee fell “seriously ill,” noting that the cases are “being handled by the health authority, which is leading the investigation,” the outlet reported.

A questionnaire has been sent to all employees who ate the meal, and investigation results are expected to be available next week.