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Restaurant’s Contaminated Milkshakes Claim 3 Lives



Clear Facts:

  • A family-owned burger restaurant in Tacoma, Frugals, has been linked to a listeria outbreak causing three deaths and six hospitalizations.
  • The Washington State Department of Health identified improperly cleaned ice cream machines as the source of the bacteria.
  • Frugals is actively cooperating with health authorities and has ceased operations of its milkshake machines across all locations for cleaning and testing.

A deadly listeria outbreak, centered at a family-run burger joint in Tacoma, Washington, has claimed the lives of three individuals.

On the 18th of August, the Washington State Department of Health disseminated a report, establishing the presence of the listeria bacteria in all varieties of milkshakes served at Frugals, a burger outlet in Tacoma. The locale is roughly an hour’s drive from Seattle.

The aftermath of this bacterial spread resulted in six individuals requiring hospital care and, tragically, three fatalities. The ages of the admitted individuals ranged between 40 and 79.

According to the health department’s statement, “Investigators pinpointed Listeria contamination within the ice cream dispensers, as they were improperly cleaned.”

The assurance was also provided that “There’s no evidence suggesting other Frugals outlets are compromised.”

Although the burger restaurant ceased operations of its ice cream machines on the 8th of August, it’s pertinent to note that the effects of listeria can linger and affect individuals for a period extending up to 70 days.

For those who have consumed a milkshake at the Tacoma Frugals between the 29th of May and the 7th of August, the health department’s recommendation is clear.


Especially if they are pregnant, above the age of 65, or have compromised immunity; they are advised to consult their medical practitioners promptly if they exhibit symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elucidates that listeria, or listeriosis, is the aftermath of ingesting food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

This infection can manifest through symptoms like fatigue, muscle discomfort, fever, nausea, headaches, and more.

All of the six hospitalizations, taking place between Feb. 27 and July 22, showed signs of the identical strain of listeria. The department highlighted that “All of these individuals had pre-existing conditions that diminished their immune response capabilities.”

The Tacoma outlet of Frugals took to Instagram on August 19 to address this crisis. Their statement began with a recounting of their engagement with the Pierce County Health Department (PCHD) to identify and tackle the bacterial source.

They expressed profound grief upon learning of the hospitalizations and the ensuing deaths, stating, “Our deepest condolences and remorse go out to those affected. The distress and potential harm our operations might have inflicted weigh heavily on us.”

In alignment with PCHD’s directives, Frugals has dispatched its milkshake machines to an external establishment for thorough cleansing and subsequent bacterial testing.

Moreover, they’ve initiated bacterial assessments for milkshake equipment from their other branches and have temporarily discontinued milkshake operations across all outlets pending results.


The statement concluded with Frugals emphasizing their dedication to their patrons, “Having been a family-centric enterprise for over three decades, our clientele’s trust is invaluable. We pledge unwavering cooperation throughout this probe and are resolute in implementing requisite modifications to uphold our operational excellence and prevent a repeat of this incident.”

We want to know what you think! Share your thoughts in the comments below.




  1. JIMIO

    August 26, 2023 at 6:45 pm


  2. Doc423

    August 26, 2023 at 7:08 pm

    Yeah, Frugals, that’s what happens when you trust minimum-wage high school dropouts to do serious health-related work on machines that feed the public.

  3. Normal

    August 26, 2023 at 7:36 pm

    No one does their job. IQ is too low to realize being a lazy slacker can kill people. So who was supposed to be cleaning those machines? Any accountability?? I bet not.

  4. PvA

    August 26, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    Can families sue Frugal’s for Wrongful death/illness? Costs to see doctors?

  5. Jeremy

    August 28, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    As someone who was a manager in a fast food chain, I can tell you that the quality and cleanliness in each store is entirely the responsibility of management. Managers are responsible for both training employees in proper procedures and ensuring that those procedures are followed. I will concede that with today’s labor market managers are forced to hire people they would otherwise not consider, but that just means that the managers have to be more vigilant in their stores.

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