3 People Dead and 6 Hospitalized After Listeria Outbreak From Washington Restaurant's Milkshakes

Listeria and other bacteria can thrive in low temperatures found in soft-serve ice cream machines.

During some of the hottest months of the year, a fast-food restaurant discovered its milkshakes had a deadly ingredient.

A Frugals restaurant in Tacoma, Washington, had to stop selling their shakes after health officials say listeria bacteria was found in the soft-serve ice cream.

Three people have died and six have been hospitalized after all had milkshakes from the same Frugals store.

“The ice cream machine was not cleaned properly and this isn't the first time that we've seen ice cream machines not cleaned properly being the cause of a listeria outbreak,”  Walter Marler, the attorney of the family of one of the deceased, says. 

Listeria and other bacteria can thrive in low temperatures such as those in the soft-serve machines. These machines are supposed to be regularly sanitized to ensure bacteria can’t survive.

A 2019 Inside Edition investigation found that of the 40 samples from different fast-food chains and independent shops in Seattle, nine samples showed unacceptable levels of coliform bacteria.

Coliform bacteria itself does not typically cause an illness but its presence does indicate unsanitary conditions, in which listeria could thrive. 

Ice cream shouldn't contain any coliform at all. and so any samples that show detectable coliform indicate a potential sanitary problem,” microbiology professor Don Schaffner tells Inside Edition.

The owners of Frugals released a statement saying that they are going to step up cleaning practices at all locations. “We are heartbroken and deeply regret any harm our actions could have caused.”

While cleaning practices are being improved, other customers that visited the shop are in a waiting period to see if they have been infected.

“We really are in a period of time waiting to see if other people get sick and hopefully don't die,” Marler tells Inside Edition. “It's going to be a long couple of months' wait.”

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