Dozens of employees with the New Mexico Department of Health have been sickened with a type of food poisoning at their own holiday luncheon, according to a Santa Fe New Mexican report this week.

Counties of New Mexico
New Mexico map/US Government

Of the approximately 200 employees of the health department that attended the catered event at the Harold Runnels Building, some 70 people were struck with gastrointestinal symptoms.

The caterer has been identified as the Kick Ass Sandwich Shop in Santa Fe, which was discovered not to have a permit to cater the event. This prompted the New Mexico Environment Department to issue the restaurant with a notice of violation.

The etiology of the outbreak appears to be Clostridium perfringensC. perfringens is a type of bacteria that can be found in a variety of foods, particularly meats, meat products, and gravy. Emetic toxins produced by C. perfringens bacteria are characterized by intense abdominal cramps and diarrhea which begin 8-22 hours after consumption of foods containing large numbers of those C. perfringens bacteria capable of producing the toxin. The illness is usually over within 24 hours but less severe symptoms may persist in some individuals for 1 or 2 weeks.

According to local media, the Kick Ass Sandwich Shop was opened earlier this year and was called Bad Ass Sandwich Co.; however, they changed their name after a Utah-based coffee company with a similar name filed a trademark infringement lawsuit.