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An ice cream machine that wasn’t cleaned properly led to the deaths of 3 people in Washington, officials say

Milkshake.Larry Crowe/AP

Three people died from Listeria infection linked to milkshakes from a Frugals restaurant.

The restaurant is cleaning all its machines, Frugals said in a statement.

Listeria infection kills about 260 people a year.

Three people have died and three others were hospitalized after Listeria bacteria made its way into the milkshakes sold at a burger shop in Tacoma, Washington.

The bacteria was found in ice cream machines at a Frugals restaurant used to make the milkshakes after staff failed to clean them correctly, the Washington State Department of Health announced Friday. No other location was affected.

The cases occurred between February 27 and July 22, and the affected people all had weakened immune systems, the department said.

The restaurant stopped using its machines earlier this month, but people can begin displaying symptoms of Listeria infection up to 70 days after initial exposure, according to the agency.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Frugals announced that it would halt all sales of milkshakes at its Tacoma store and all other locations with milkshake machines. The company said that machines at other stores would be tested for Listeria, and the contaminated machines would be sanitized and re-tested.

“We are heartbroken and deeply regret any harm our actions could have caused,” the statement read.

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Frugals did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Listeria bacteria can cause an infection known as listeriosis, commonly known as Listeria infection, per the CDC. This infection can be harmless for most people but poses a risk for those with weakened immune systems, those over 65, and pregnant people and their newborns. Around 260 people die from the infection a year. There have been 58,717 listeria disease outbreaks and nearly 2,000 between 1998 and 2021.

Symptoms for most people include fever and flu-like symptoms, seizures, headaches, muscle fatigue, loss of balance, a stiff neck, and confusion, according to the CDC. Symptoms for pregnant people include fever, muscle aches, and fatigue.

In February, Baltimore-based Fresh Ideation Food Group LLC recalled over 400 food products contaminated with listeria. In 2022, two people died after being infected with listeria found in Dole packaged salads.

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