3 Dead After Drinking Contaminated Milkshakes in Washington

According to health officials, the ice cream machines at a restaurant in Washington "were not cleaned correctly."

three milkshakes pictured
Image via Getty/Jeffrey Coolidge
three milkshakes pictured

Three people are dead following a Listeria outbreak linked to milkshakes sold at a restaurant in Washington state.

In a statement shared last week, the Washington State Department of Health said that Listeria bacteria had been found “in all milkshake flavors” sold at a Frugals location in Tacoma. The bacteria have since been connected to a food borne listeriosis outbreak that resulted in six people being hospitalized and three people dying.

Per the health department, the ice cream machines at the restaurant “were not cleaned correctly.” While most people who consume items contaminated in this fashion will not experience serious illness, those with underlying conditions—including pregnant people, anyone over the age of 65, and those with weaker immune systems—are susceptible to potentially severe responses.

All six of those hospitalized in Washington between February and July of this year had underlying conditions. Of those hospitalized, three ultimately died. Symptoms for people who are not currently pregnant and may have consumed Listeria-contaminated items include fever, muscle pain, and exhaustion. For pregnant people, illness can also cause premature births or a loss of the pregnancy.

According to an online Frugals menu, the milkshakes in question are available in three flavor options: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Additionally, milkshakes are available in two rotating Flavor of the Month options. The brand also has locations in other Washington cities, as well as three in Montana. Notably, health officials say that no other Frugals restaurants “are believed to be affected.”

In a statement shared over the weekend, a Frugals spokesperson said that it was shutting down its milkshake machines at all locations for testing “out of an abundance of caution.” Furthermore, enhanced cleaning procedures will be instituted at the stores.

“Today, we were deeply saddened to learn the Washington State Department of Health is reporting six people were hospitalized with foodborne listeriosis and three people later died,” Frugals said. “We are heartbroken and deeply regret any harm our actions could have caused.”

Complex has reached out to the Washington State Department of Health and Frugals for additional comment. This story may be updated.

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