Listeria bacteria found in milkshakes at Tacoma Frugals linked to 3 deaths

18 August 2023

Listeria bacteria found in all milkshake flavors sold at a Frugals restaurant location in Tacoma are associated with an outbreak linked to three deaths and three more hospitalizations, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

State Health investigators stated they were in compromised health when they drank the shakes from Frugals on Pacific Avenue South, later claiming the restaurant’s ice cream machines were not being properly cleaned.

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Listeriosis is a serious infection most commonly caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria bacteria. An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and approximately 260 die, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Frugals restaurant, located at 10727 Pacific Ave. S, stopped using the machines 10 days ago, but Listeria bacteria can cause sickness up to 70 days after it’s been consumed.

“Most people who eat food contaminated with Listeria will not get seriously sick, but people who are pregnant, aged 65 or older, and those with weakened immune systems should call their health care provider if they ate a Frugals’ Tacoma milkshake between May 29 and Aug. 7, 2023 and have Listeria symptoms (listed below),” Washington Department of Health (DOH) wrote in a prepared statement.

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Symptoms from those who are not pregnant usually suffer from fever, muscle aches and tiredness. Headache, stiff joints, confusion, loss of balance and seizures are also symptoms from the Listeria bacteria. Listeria can also cause pregnancy loss, premature birth and serious illness or even death among newborns.

Genetic fingerprinting of the bacteria in the milkshakes found it was the same strain of Listeria that hospitalized six people between Feb. 27 and July 22 (five people in Pierce County and one person in Thurston County). DOH officials confirmed all six people had conditions that made their immune systems less able to fight disease.

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