Updated December 24th, 2023 at 14:35 IST

‘Worse than delivery pain’: 700 fall sick after Airbus staff Christmas dinner in France

Hundreds of employees at Airbus Atlantic, the French aerospace group, fell ill after a holiday feast intended for 2,600 workers.

Reported by: Manasvi Asthana
700 staffers sickened after Airbus Christmas dinner in France. | Image:Unsplash

Hundreds of employees at Airbus Atlantic, the French aerospace group, fell ill after a holiday feast intended for 2,600 workers. Health authorities have initiated an investigation to determine the cause of a widespread gastroenteritis outbreak affecting approximately 700 employees. The holiday banquet was arranged and supplied by the company's in-house restaurant situated at its Montoir-de-Bretagne site in the western French region of Loire-Atlantique.

The menu featured indulgent offerings such as foie gras, scallops, lobster, and tournedos, culminating in desserts like ice-cream logs and hazelnut and chocolate mousse, all priced at just €15 (£13) per person.


Employees who were affected exhibited "clinical signs of vomiting and/or diarrhea" following the holiday dinner on December 14. The majority experienced illness within 24 to 48 hours after the meal.

Health authorities have not pinpointed the cause of the widespread poisoning and are investigating whether it may be attributed to a bacterial contamination in the food or an exceptionally contagious gastroenteritis virus.


"The investigation is ongoing," stated a spokesperson, noting that the results are expected to be available next week. A questionnaire has been distributed to all individuals who were present at the event.

One employee told a local news outlet, “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, informed that the meal was prepared by the company's canteen. He stated, "As we do every year, we organised a Christmas dinner for 2,600 people with a lot of local suppliers," as per the reports.

“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. The investigation will take several more days,” he added.


An Airbus spokesperson mentioned that no one had experienced "serious illness."

They further stated, "The health authority is currently overseeing the case and spearheading the investigation."


Airbus Atlantic, a subsidiary of the world's largest aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, has a workforce of 15,000 individuals spread across five countries.


Published December 24th, 2023 at 14:03 IST