Fecal Bacteria, E.Coli Found On Most Shopping Carts

Robyn Nazar RN BSN's picture
Child in Shopping Cart
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You better bring your sanitizing wipes (or gloves) next time you head to the grocery store. Because if you don't, it is likely you will be picking up fecal bacteria, E.coli and other dangerous microbes along with your cart full of food.

Shopping Carts Are Teeming with Bacteria

MSNBC reported that researchers at the University of Arizona tested 85 shopping carts in several states for the presence of bacteria. An astonishing 72 percent of the tested carts were positive for fecal bacteria. Then out of 36 tested carts, half of them were contaminated with E. Coli.

“That’s more than you find in a supermarket’s restroom,” Charles Gerba, the lead researcher on the study and a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, told MSNBC.

This finding is not all too surprising, but just unpleasant to ponder. The potential sources of bacteria are endless on the shopping cart handles. Sneezing, coughing, failure to hand wash after restroom use, meat drippings, dirty diapers, sweat, and baby drool are just to name a few.

The problem is that sterilization of grocery carts by the grocery stores themselves is almost non-existent. In fact, the only time they are probably ever even wiped down is when shoppers take it upon themselves to clean the handles.

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Many grocery stores do, however, offer complimentary sanitizing wipes for use on the carts. Perhaps not so coincidentally Clorox, the largest supplier of sanitizing wipes, happens to be providing the funding for this research being done by the University of Arizona.

Nonetheless, it is a good to be reminded about how filthy our environments really is and how conscientious we should be about where we place our toddlers, fresh produce and purses. The knowledge that carts are a health hazard shouldn't prevent you from using one in the event that you don't have something to sterilize it with. Just a good proper hand washing or anti-bacterial hand gel should be in order after you complete your shopping.

On a similar note, any reusable grocery bags should be washed as well. The same researchers who brought the bad news about the shopping carts have also found in a similar study that these bags can be just as nasty as any other contaminated surface.

Looking Ahead

There are several states who have pushed for legislation requiring supermarkets to offer sanitizing options for their customers, such as Clorox wipes. There is also a new company called PureCart which has developed a full-cycle disinfecting wash for shopping carts that is similar to the idea of a car wash.

In the meantime, if your grocery store doesn't already offer a bucket of sanitizing wipes for you to use, then I highly recommend that you invest in your health and pick up your own supply...today.

Image Source: Morgue File

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