Filthy, bacteria-riddled ice cream machines in Frugals burger joint in Washington led to the deaths of three people, officials say
Ice machines that were not properly cleaned by staff are responsible for the deaths of three people in Washington.
Listeria bacteria were found in ice cream makers at a Frugals restaurant in Tacoma, Washington, used to make milkshakes served at the burger joint.
Listeria is an infection normally caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes.
Most people who eat food contaminated with Listeria do not become seriously ill. But in some cases, it can cause confusion and seizures and miscarriage and stillbirth in pregnant women.
The restaurant stopped using its ice machines on Aug. 8, but Listen can make people sick for up to 70 days
Listeria bacteria were found in ice cream makers at a Frugals restaurant in Tacoma, Washington used to make milkshakes served at the burger joint
People who are pregnant, 65 or older, and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.
Officials say vulnerable people should call their healthcare provider if they’ve had a Frugals’ Tacoma milkshake between May 29 and August 7, 2023, and have listeria symptoms.
Investigators found listeria in the ice machines at the restaurant at 10727 Pacific Ave. S. in Tacoma, which had not been properly cleaned.
The restaurant stopped using its ice machines on Aug. 8, but Listen can make people sick for up to 70 days.
Officials used genetic testing of bacteria in the milkshakes to show that the Listeria strain is the same one that hospitalized between six people February 27 and July 22.
All six cases had a weakened immune system that made them less able to fight off the disease. Three of them died.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Frugals said, “We are heartbroken and deeply regret any harm our actions could have caused.”
It announced it had stopped all milkshake sales at all of its locations, that machines in other stores would be tested for Listeria, and that the contaminated machines would be sanitized and retested.
Many foods can contain listeria, but it’s most commonly found in unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, and ready-to-eat foods, such as prepackaged sandwiches.
Listeria is widespread in the environment and can be found in raw food and soil and in the feces of many mammals, birds and fish.
Mild symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting usually begin within 24 hours of eating contaminated food and generally last one to three days.
However, if the infection spreads beyond the gut, it becomes an invasive disease, with symptoms appearing within two weeks of eating listeria-contaminated food.
The infection is treated with antibiotics.
According to the CDC, about 1,600 Americans get listeria each year and about 260 die.
Invasive disease during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, or life-threatening infection of the newborn, and nearly 1 in 20 non-pregnant people with invasive listeria die.
Nearly one in 20 non-pregnant people with invasive listeria dies.
You can avoid listeria by wash your hands regularly with soap and water, washing fruits and vegetables before eating them, spreparing ready-to-eat foods as recommended by the manufacturer, and to ensure all the hot food is steaming hot through and through.