More than 70 police officers were treated for food poisoning at the Newcastle Provincial Hospital in northern KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.
The officers complained about stomach cramps after eating lunch at the training camp at Horse Shoe Farm.
They were at the camp on an anti-crime strategic session preparing for the festive season.
Shoes Magudulela, a spokesman for the police, said it was not clear when the officers were poisoned.
"We were told that they ate beef stew on Tuesday and could not sleep because they had running stomachs the whole night," he said.
"It's worrying to see police in hospital beds while they are supposed to be fighting crime," he said.
One of the police officers, who asked not to be named, said the beef stew they ate was old.
He said: "We ate the stew on Friday night and it seems that the same food was placed in the fridge and given to us again on Tuesday."
Thokozani Sokhela, a hospital spokesman, said the police officers were all treated for food poisoning and 40 were later discharged.
"We have assigned our chief environmental officer to check the food the police ate," he said.
"We will get more information, but the patients told nurses that they ate [bad] beef stew.
"Doctors saw them and they were admitted."