THREE people have died after drinking milkshakes at a popular burger joint.
Another three were hospitalized when health officials discovered an outbreak of Listeria.
The Washington State Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that Frugals restaurant at 10727 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma, WA, found Listeria bacteria.
Traces were found in the ice cream machines that made three different flavors of milkshakes.
According to a statement from the health department, the machines were “not properly cleaned”.
No other Frugals restaurants are believed to be affected.
Although Frugals in Tascoma have stopped using the machines, consumers have been warned that listeria can make people sick for up to 70 days after eating it.
However, about half of those infected show symptoms within three weeks.
Most people who eat food contaminated with Listeria do not become seriously ill.
However, the six people who were either hospitalized or died had weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to serious illnesses.
Two of those who were hospitalized but did not die said they ate Frugals’ Tacoma milkshakes before they fell ill, helping officials track the outbreak.
It has been recommended that all pregnant women who are 65 years of age or older, or who have a compromised immune system, should call their doctor if they ate a Frugals’ Tacoma milkshake between May 29 and August 7, 2023.
In a statement published on Facebook, Frugals said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the results.
“We are heartbroken and deeply regret the damage our actions have caused,” the statement said.
The chain has stopped using milkshake machines at all locations (eight in total) and has sent out samples for independent testing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can be difficult to completely eliminate listeria from food processing plants.
The bacteria can spread on surfaces or food and withstand cold and sub-zero temperatures.
Raw milk and products made from it – including ice cream and yoghurt – are among the foods in which Listeria grows the most.
About 10 to 25 cases of listeriosis are reported in Washington each year.
Listeriosis can cause a mild, flu-like illness or a severe infection of the bloodstream or lining of the brain and spinal cord.
The most common way of contracting listeriosis is by eating food contaminated with listeria.
Women who contract Listeria during pregnancy can transmit Listeria to their fetus or newborn.
About 30 to 50 percent of newborns and 35 percent of nonpregnant adults with severe infection die from listeriosis.
The Sun has reached out to Frugals for comment.
What can you do to avoid Listeria?
If you’re pregnant or have a compromised immune system, you should be extra careful with listeria, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Take extra precautions with the following foods:
Mexican-style cheeses and soft cheeses
These include soft cheeses such as feta, brie, camembert or blue cheese, as well as Mexican cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco.
Only eat these cheeses if the packaging clearly states that the product is made from pasteurized milk.
hot dogs and charcuterie
Stay away from them unless they have been reheated to piping hot and/or cooked through.
Keep liquids from hot dog packaging away from other foods, utensils and food prep surfaces. Wash your hands after handling these products.
For example, “Nova Style”, “Lox”, “Bückling” and “Jerky” can be used to describe these goods. They can be cooked or eaten from cans.
Raw or mildly cooked sprouts of any kind should be properly cooked.
To prevent Listeria, follow these guidelines:
- Keep things clean. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. After cooking, use hot, soapy water to clean utensils, cutting boards, and other food prep surfaces.
- Scrub raw vegetables. Clean raw vegetables with a brush or vegetable brush under plenty of running water.
- Cook your food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to ensure your meat, poultry, and egg dishes are at a safe temperature.