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Grocery Carts are Germs on Wheels (Opinion)

by: Alice E. Marson

(NaturalNews) Shopping carts are gaining the reputation as one of the dirtiest and most germ-contaminated public items. The cart seats and handles have considerable more bacteria that even toilet seats and flush handles. Shoppers are blissfully unaware that bacteria and viruses, such as E. coli, staphylococcus, salmonella, and influenza, can live on grocery carts and their handles for three days. A study by the University of Arizona found at least 21 percent of the shopping cart seats tested contained bodily fluids, such as blood, mucus, saliva, fecal matter, and urine. Bacteria from these body fluids can be threatening, especially to those with frail immune systems and children.

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Small children cough, sneeze, and chew on grocery cart handles. Shoppers also grasp these handles after handling packages of raw chicken and meat. In a study, sponsored by the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station, researchers from the Department of Nutrition and Food Science sampled 825 packages of raw meat obtained from supermarkets in the greater Washington, D.C. area. The meat in 179 of these packages contained E. coli bacteria.

A recent Akron, Ohio Beacon Journal article and the ABC Evening News revealed that Ohio had become part of a multi-state investigation trying to determine the cause of a salmonella outbreak that had sickened 94 people and accounted for two deaths. These illnesses occurred in 20 Ohio counties; Ohio worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to track the source of these outbreaks. Nationally, 600 people in 42 states had become infected. Their ages ranged from two months to 98 years of age; however, children under 5 were found to be five times more likely to get salmonella than others. Could dirty grocery carts be a factor?

Several products are being made available to the grocery industry. Mike Richardson, an industry analyst of the Fredonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, stated that cart wipes are being made available twice as fast as other types of wipes. Still, relatively few shoppers reach for these wipes. Originally, only 5 percent of customers used them; now, their use has expanded to 15-20 percent.

In Chevy Chase, Maryland, a supermarket uses a type of cart wash which mists carts with a disinfecting solution of peroxide. The cart wash represents the latest effort on the part of grocers to take the "gross" out of grocery carts. Other grocery cart products have emerged, including protective covers to minimize infants' contact with the seat, full-cart liners, and portable snap-on handles. So, the next time you go grocery shopping, look around for some of these products to help make your cart more germ-free. If none are available, request that the management provide them for your shopping convenience and safety.

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