A delicious Christmas dinner for 2,600 workers at French aviation group Airbus Atlantic has left hundreds of employees sick.
Health authorities have launched an investigation to determine the cause of a widespread outbreak of gastroenteritis among the 700 employees reported.
The festive feast was organized and served by the company's own restaurant at its location in Montoir-de-Bretagne in the Loire-Atlantique region of western France.
Delicacies on the menu included foie gras, scallops, lobster and tornado, followed by desserts made with ice cream chunks and hazelnut and chocolate mousse at just €15 (£13) per person.
The affected workers showed “clinical signs of vomiting and/or diarrhea” after the seasonal dinner on December 14. Most became ill within 24 to 48 hours after the meal.
Health officials said they have not yet determined the cause of the mass poisoning and are looking into whether it was caused by bacteria found in food or the highly contagious gastroenteritis virus.
A police spokesman said, “Investigations are continuing,” adding that the results will be announced next week. A questionnaire was sent to all meal attendees.
One employee, Nolwen, told Ouest-France: “I was suffering from cramps and headaches that I had never felt before. It was worse than giving birth.”
Jean-Claude Iribarin, secretary of the Airbus Atlantic Business Committee, told the newspaper that the food was prepared in the company's canteen. “As we do every year, we organized a Christmas dinner for 2,600 people with a lot of local suppliers,” he said.
People have been a little hasty about the reasons. We are required to keep samples of every product served in the restaurant. It will be analyzed by ARS [health authorities]. The investigation will take several more days.”
An Airbus spokesman said no one was in “serious condition.” He added, “The case is now being dealt with by the health authority that is leading the investigation.”
Airbus Atlantic, a subsidiary of Airbus, the world's largest aircraft manufacturer, employs 15,000 people in five countries.
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