700 Airbus Atlantic Employees Fall Sick After Christmas Dinner In France: ''Worse Than Giving Birth''

Health officials are investigating whether the cause of the illness was a bacterium in the food or a very contagious gastroenteritis virus.

700 Airbus Atlantic Employees Fall Sick After Christmas Dinner In France: ''Worse Than Giving Birth''

More than 700 Airbus Atlantic staff are believed to have fallen ill following the company's Christmas dinner in France, Fox News reported. Notably, the festive feast was organised and provided by the company's restaurant at its site at Montoir-de-Bretagne in the Loire-Atlantique region of western France. 2,600 employees were in attendance at the dinner organised on December 14. 

As the Guardian, the lavish gourmet spread featured foie gras, scallops, lobster, and beef tenderloin, capped off with desserts like ice-cream logs and hazelnut-chocolate mousse – all for only about $16 per person. However, within 24 to 48 hours after the dinner, hundreds of people showed ''clinical signs of vomiting and/or diarrhea.''

A spokesperson for the European aeronautics company told CNN that the Airbus Atlantic employees ''were taken ill after contracting a food-borne illness after eating the company-organized Christmas lunch.''

France's health agency, Agence Regionale de Sant (ARS), has launched an investigation to ascertain the reason for the mass food poisoning. Health officials are investigating whether the cause of the illness was a bacterium in the food or a very contagious gastroenteritis virus.

''This appears to be an isolated event and all employees are recovering well. The health of our employees remains our primary concern and we are fully cooperating with the ARS health agency to identify the cause of the illness and ensure this cannot happen again in the future,'' a spokesperson of the company said. The spokesman added no one had become ''seriously ill.''

However, an affected employee said that she had colic and headaches worse than giving birth. One employee named only as Nolwenn told the Ouest-France newspaper: ''I had colic and headaches like I'd never had before. It was worse than giving birth.''

Jean-Claude Iribarren, the secretary of the Airbus Atlantic works committee, said the food had been prepared by the company's canteen.

''As we do every year, we organised a Christmas dinner for 2,600 people with a lot of local suppliers. 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.''

According to BBC, Airbus Atlantic is a subsidiary of the world's largest aircraft maker, Airbus, and employs 15,000 people in five countries.