Deadly listeria outbreak linked to burger chain milkshakes

An outbreak of Listeria that resulted in the deaths of three people has been linked to milkshakes that burger chain Frugals was selling at its Tacoma, Washington, restaurant state health department.

In a press release on Friday, officials said the outbreak was caused by foodborne listeria, a type of bacteria that can cause serious illness or death in people aged 65 and over and miscarriage and premature birth in pregnant women. At least three other people were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak from February 27 to July 22.

The same strain of bacteria was found in ice machines at the restaurant about 10 miles south of downtown Tacoma that had not been properly cleaned, the health department said. The restaurant stopped using the ice machines after they were tested on Aug. 8, but listeria can make people sick for several days after eating the bacteria, health officials said. It is believed none of the other Frugals restaurants in Washington or Montana were affected, they added.

in one Explanation posted on Instagram Over the weekend, Frugals said, “We are heartbroken and deeply regret the harm our actions may have caused.” The Tacoma Frugals have stopped selling milkshakes and have sent in the milkshake equipment for cleaning and re-examination, it said.

Frugals did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment Monday night.

Investigators said all six people hospitalized, including those who died, were immunocompromised and that the bacteria's genetic fingerprint showed the same diet was likely responsible for their illness.

Two of the sufferers who survived told investigators they drank milkshakes from the restaurant.

Previous outbreaks of Listeria caused by ice cream and milkshakes prompted the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to take samples from the restaurant on Aug. 8. said state health officials. Ten days later, they confirmed that all of the restaurant's milkshake flavors were contaminated with the same strain of Listeria that caused the outbreak.

While most people who eat food contaminated with Listeria do not develop serious illnesses, state health officials are advising any pregnant woman age 65 or older, or who is immunocompromised, who drank a milkshake at a restaurant between May 29 and August 7 to to contact their doctor.

“The milkshake machines will remain out of service until the Tacoma-Pierce County Department of Health determines they are free of Listeria contamination and no longer pose a hazard to the public,” the statement said Washington State Department of Health and Human Services said.

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