An outbreak of listeria at a family-owned burger restaurant in Tacoma, Washington, has resulted in three deaths and six hospitalizations, according to the Washington State Department of Health. The department released a report on Aug. 18 confirming that listeria bacteria were found in all milkshake flavors sold at the Frugals burger restaurant. The investigation revealed that the ice cream machines at the restaurant were not cleaned correctly, leading to the contamination. The department emphasized that no other Frugals restaurants are believed to be affected.
The outbreak has raised concerns as listeria can continue to afflict people for up to 70 days. The Washington State Department of Health has urged people who are pregnant, 65 or older, or have weakened immune systems to contact their healthcare provider if they consumed a milkshake at Frugals Tacoma between May 29 and Aug. 7 and are experiencing symptoms of listeriosis.
Listeriosis occurs after consuming food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms of the infection include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, diarrhea, and vomiting.
The same strain of listeria was detected in all six people who were hospitalized between Feb. 27 and July 22, according to the Washington State Department of Health. These individuals had pre-existing conditions that compromised their immune systems, making them more susceptible to the disease.
Frugals Tacoma issued a statement on their Instagram page on Aug. 19, expressing their sadness over the outbreak and the resulting illnesses and deaths. The restaurant chain stated that it is cooperating with the Pierce County Health Department (PCHD) and has taken steps to address the issue. The milkshake equipment has been sent to an independent facility for thorough cleaning and sanitization, and testing samples from milkshake machines at other Frugals locations have been sent out as well. The chain assured its customers that it is committed to making any necessary changes to prevent a similar incident in the future.
TODAY.com reached out to Frugals headquarters for additional comment, but has not received a response as of Aug. 21.
In a separate incident, two people were hospitalized after consuming milkshakes contaminated with Listeria at the Frugals restaurant in Tacoma, Washington. The outbreak has been linked to improperly cleaned ice cream machines at the establishment. The Washington State Department of Health confirmed that all milkshake flavors sold at the Frugals location were contaminated with listeria bacteria. The department also mentioned that the same strain of listeria was found in all six people who were hospitalized between Feb. 27 and July 22.
Listeria is a bacteria that can cause serious illness, particularly in pregnant individuals, young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Pregnant women may experience fever, chills, headache, and other symptoms, and infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn, according to the CDC.
Frugals Tacoma released a statement expressing their sadness over the outbreak and the resulting hospitalizations and deaths. The restaurant chain has halted milkshake sales at its Tacoma location and has sent the milkshake equipment to an independent facility for thorough cleaning and sanitization. In addition, milkshake machines at other Frugals locations have been shut down, and samples have been sent for testing. The chain is fully cooperating with the investigation and is committed to implementing any necessary changes to prevent future incidents.
The outbreak at Frugals Tacoma has raised concerns about listeria contamination, as the bacteria can cause serious illness and even death. The Washington State Department of Health has stated that no other Frugals restaurants are believed to be affected, but the potential for listeria to continue affecting people for up to 70 days after ingestion is a cause for concern. The department has urged higher-risk individuals who consumed milkshakes at Frugals Tacoma between May 29 and Aug. 7 to consult their healthcare providers if they are experiencing symptoms.
Listeria outbreaks have also been reported in other parts of the country. A frozen food company from New York recently recalled cups of its 8-ounce ice cream due to potential listeria contamination. Health officials are investigating hospitalizations in New York and Pennsylvania related to the ice cream product. The FDA has stated that the ice cream was sold in 19 states and Washington, D.C.
The Frugals Tacoma listeria outbreak serves as a reminder of the importance of proper food handling and cleaning procedures to prevent the spread of bacteria. The incident has prompted Frugals to take immediate action in addressing the issue and ensuring the safety of its customers. As a family-owned business, Frugals has expressed its commitment to maintaining high standards of operation and preventing similar incidents in the future.
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