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Q: DIRTY SHOPPING CARTS ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Category: Health
Asked by: mary4-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 22 Sep 2004 13:53 PDT
Expires: 22 Oct 2004 13:53 PDT
Question ID: 404926
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 22 Sep 2004 14:55 PDT
Shopping carts can be very dirty indeed, and contaminated carts have
been implicated in cases of serious illness. I have gathered some
information for you on this subject. For reasons of copyright, I can
post only a brief excerpt from each of these articles. For more
details, you may want to read the articles in their entirety.


"Studies show that shopping cart handles are among the leading sources
of germs and bacteria in public. Microbiologist Kelly Reynolds of the
University of Arizona Environmental Research Laboratory found 21% of
shopping carts tested to contain bodily fluids. The handles can harbor
staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, E coli and even
hepatitis B. Bacteria from meat and poultry are other concerns."



"An Inside Edition investigation found disturbing evidence that
supermarket shopping carts can expose shoppers - including small
children who often ride in the carts - to harmful bacteria. In a
typical day, a supermarket cart can be exposed to the drippings from
chicken and meat, and even young children still in diapers...

Inside Edition... tested carts with young children in them, swabbing
and focusing on the areas most likely touched, like the handles and
areas around the seats. The swabs were sent to an independent lab and
tested for bacteria and fungus that can cause disease.

Inside Edition?s lab found several types of bacteria and fungus that
could cause disease, especially in people with fragile immune systems
like children. The most serious bacteria found was enteroccocus
facaelis - indicating the presence of fecal matter."

Inside Edition: Shopping Carts


"Barbara described the illness of 2-year old granddaughter, 'C.'  (I
will not use C's name because her parents feel it could lead to
unwanted publicity and bring back painful memories).

One line in Barbara?s letter caught my attention: 'After extensive
investigation, health department inspectors traced the source (of the
infection) to a supermarket shopping cart. My granddaughter rode in
the cart sucking her thumb while her mother shopped. Somehow the
bacteria was on the handle of the cart and wound up in her mouth.'

[ * * * ]

Even if a shopping cart handle looks clean it may be laden with germs
that can sicken you or your child. In last week's column, I told of a
2-year-old girl, 'C,' who contracted the often-fatal disease,
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), caused by the E. coli 0157:H7 virus.
She spent several weeks in a hospital intensive care unit with her
life hanging in the balance. After eliminating other possible causes,
C's parents concluded that her ride in a supermarket shopping cart
exposed her to the disease...

Where does the bacteria come from? In a study sponsored by the
Maryland Agricultural Experimental Station, researchers from the
Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland
sampled 825 packages of raw meat obtained from 59 supermarkets in the
Greater Washington, D.C., area between June 1999 and July 2000. The
meat in 179 of the packages sampled contained E. coli bacteria (82
from chicken, 40 from beef, 34 from pork and 23 from turkey). In
addition, 159 of the samples contained campylobacter, and 25 contained

The Maryland study concluded: 'Retail raw meats are often contaminated
with food-borne pathogens. They are potential vehicles for
transmitting food-borne diseases, and our findings stress the need for
increased implementation of hazard analysis.'

What are the chances a cart handle will be contaminated? In 1998, Dr.
Kelly Reynolds, a microbiologist, at the University of Arizona, doing
research to determine why certain bacteria find their way into
people's homes, visited six Tucson, Ariz., supermarkets... At the
laboratory, Reynolds made a startling discovery: One in five carts
tested positive for bodily fluids -- blood, mucus, saliva or urine --
that could transmit infectious germs."

United Feature Syndicate: Clean Carts Can Save Lives


"A team of microbiologists at the University of Arizona just completed
the first major public health study measuring levels of contaminants
on frequently touched public surfaces that can transmit infectious
diseases. The study examined more than 800 high-traffic public
surfaces in three states...

In the first phase of the study, researchers found that one in four
surfaces tested positive for filth, based on the presence of certain
proteins that indicate poor hygiene. One in five surfaces tested
positive for at least one bodily fluid. Not surprisingly, the most
contaminated environments were children's playgrounds and daycare
centers. Topping the list of worst offenders, however, were a few
surprises, including public buses, shopping carts, arm chair rests,
vending machine knobs, escalator handrails and public phones."

Food Facts: What You Bring Home From Work May Hurt You


Some investigative reports conducted by television stations:

KOCO-TV: Millions Of Bacteria Found On Metro Shopping Carts

WTTG-TV: Dirty Carts

KPHO-TV: Grocery Cart Germs

KRON-TV: Shopping Cart Shocker

Seven Network (Australia): Germs in Your Shopping Trolley


Google search strategy:

Google Web Search: "shopping carts" bacteria


I hope this is helpful. If anything is unclear or incomplete, please
request clarification; I'll gladly offer further assistance before you
rate my answer.

Best regards,
From: arh0103-ga on 11 Apr 2005 03:55 PDT
Shopping carts are indeed filthy and germ ridded. Although I have
never offically reseached the suject and found this thread very

When I had my first child and I starting putting her in a shopping
cart I would first clean of the handle with an antibacterial wipe. The
dirt and grim that came off was gross. I now use a shopping cart cover
on the seat of the cart in addition to wiping it down. If anyone is
interested you can find cart covers here:

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