Has it ever occurred to you that the shopping cart in which you carry food, handbag and your toddler may be teeming with bacteria and viruses like E.coli, staphylococcus, salmonella and influenza?
Consider the handle. It’s been touched by untold numbers of hands that have changed diapers, mopped up runny noses, picked up packages of raw chicken and meat, and been coughed on, sneezed in and drooled on.
While, there is no need to get panicky, you can not rule out the possibility of catching something from your cart, if conditions are right, says an interesting report in the Star Tribune. Experts say it’s always good to limit exposure to nasty germs, especially the flu bug in winter. But they caution about over reacting to germs and overdoing the antibiotics.
Some stores in the USA offer sanitising wipes to customers to de-germ their carts. “Although, wipes are great in concept, in essence, you are asking customers to do your work. If you go to a restaurant, you do not ask your customers to clean the table before they eat,” says an industry expert.
Solution: PureCart Systems, a start-up company in the USA, has come up with a drive through washer, which coats the carts with a safe mist of a peroxide-based disinfectant to sanitise them. Dialysis machines and poultry processors are also cleaned similarly.
Cost: The PureCart washers cost about $10,000 each, with a recurring expenditure of about $1,000 a month. Wipes, in comparison, cost 3 to 8 cents a piece. Other products also exist to help customers avoid cart germs, including, a sanitary handle cover for shopping carts, at around $11 each and a $30 fabric seat cover to keep the little ones from touching the cart. PureCart claims that the pay back period for investing in thir washing system is just one year.
“In a society where people bathe two or three times a day, where TV is crowded with ads for kitchen cleaners, sprays, wipes and bleaches, there’s an aspect of all this that goes way overboard,” said Dr. Greg Poland, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases and director of the vaccine research group at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “There needs to be a balance, in my opinion.”