Listeria OUTBREAK linked to milkshakes sold at Frugals Tacoma causes three deaths, six hospitalizations
By Laura Harris // Aug 29, 2023

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections at Frugals, a popular and beloved family-owned burger restaurant in Tacoma, Washington.

According to reports, three people have died and six were hospitalized after drinking contaminated milkshakes at Frugals. The department confirmed that listeria bacteria were found in the ice cream machines and were present in all milkshake flavors served at the restaurant.

Moreover, the DOH stated that the same strain of listeria was detected in all six people who were hospitalized between Feb. 27 and July 22.

The investigators stated that the restaurant stopped using its ice cream machines on August 8, but the DOH warned that listeria symptoms can manifest up to 70 days after exposure. (Related: Listeria OUTBREAK linked to recalled ice cream cups feared to have spread in 20 states.)

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, approximately 1,600 Americans are affected by listeriosis each year, with an estimated 260 fatalities. However, the actual number of cases might be higher than what's officially documented due to underreporting and the time it takes to investigate outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Frugals Tacoma expressed its deep remorse in an Instagram statement on August 19. The statement read, "As a family-owned business for over 30 years, the trust of our customers is paramount... We are committed to making any changes deemed necessary to maintain our high standard of operations and prevent this from happening again."

“Last week, Frugals was notified by the Pierce County Health Department (PCHD) of an investigation into a possible listeria outbreak at our Tacoma Frugals locations. Since that time, we have been working with PCHD to identify and contain the source of listeria after a test on a milkshake machine in our Tacoma store tested positive for the bacteria."

L. monocytogenes is the pathogen responsible for food poisoning

Listeria infection, also known as listeriosis, is caused by consuming food contaminated with L. monocytogenes bacteria.

People who get sick with a listeria infection can develop fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache, gastrointestinal distress, and, in severe cases, neurological symptoms like confusion and seizures. For pregnant women, a listeria infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths or premature birth.

As a response to the case, the DOH issued a plea to pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems to consult their healthcare providers if they consumed milkshakes at Frugals Tacoma between May 29 and August 7 and are now showing symptoms.

Consumers must seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms of listeriosis, such as confusion, fatigue, fever, headaches, loss of balance, muscle aches, stiff necks or seizures.

However, people who do not belong to high-risk groups usually recover from listeriosis without medical care and don't get tested for L. monocytogenes.

Listeria symptoms can appear as early as the same day of consumption or as late as ten weeks afterward, with the average onset occurring around two weeks post-exposure.

Visit for more stories about listeriosis infections from contaminated food items.

Watch the following video that discusses if L. monocytogenes infections are responsible for the recent surges in hospitalizations.

This video is from the 1Human channel on

More related stories:

Food safety watchdogs issue warning over contaminated cheese; Brit dies amid listeria outbreak.

CDC: Listeria outbreak linked to deli meat and cheese kills 1, infects 16.

Listeria outbreak strikes frozen foods: 47 MILLION pounds recalled; be careful what you consume.

FDA recalls green organic kiwifruit from 14 states due to potential LISTERIA contamination.

FDA unveils plan to combat DEADLY bacterial outbreak in baby formula.

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