The next time you grab for a shopping cart at the grocery store or place your child in the basket you might want to wipe it down first. That grocery cart handle could be covered in fecal matter, or worse E. coli.
Researchers from the University of Arizona swabbed shopping cart handles in four states looking for bacteria covered surfaces. Out of the 85 carts examined, 72% had traces of fecal matter.
When the researchers took a closer look of a sample of 36 carts, 50 percent of them happened to contain markers of E. coli along with other types of bacteria.
Shopping carts are not the only grocery store items being neglected by costumers and staff. Many people never think to wash their reusable bags, which makes them a new bacterial breeding ground. Fruits, vegetables and other items that haven’t been washed contaminate the bag and create another chance for infections. Remember: your food is a seasoned traveler before you pick it up at the store — and you can’t be sure where it’s been (or who it’s been with).
So you might ask, why is there more bacteria found on shopping carts than in bathrooms?
Public restrooms, like the ones found in grocery stores, are routinely cleaned. Very few people think about cleaning and disinfecting the shopping carts. Studies show that children who ride in shopping carts are more prone to infections than children who don’t.
The best way to prevent illness and infection is to wipe off the cart handle with a disinfectant wipe before use. Also frequent hand washing can prevent the spread of a virus or bacteria.
Whole Foods Market realized the concern and made disinfectant wipes readily available for customers upon entering their store. Look for grocery stores that provide disinfectant wipes — and use them.
To help prevent your child from getting sick, practice good hygiene habits in front of your child at a young age. Also be sure your child isn’t touching or sucking on the cart. Give them a toy to hold onto at the grocery store, that way their hands are busy.