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A study by a University of Arizona researcher shows that there are some real dangers of illness and contamination from the handles of grocery carts and baskets that you put your groceries in. The lead researcher, Professor Charles Gerba, took swabs from the handles of grocery carts in four US states. Out of the 85 carts swabbed, 72 percent of them tested positive for fecal bacteria.

Fecal bacteria comes from not washing your hands after going to the bathroom. The most common fecal bacteria is called Escherichia coli or E. coli for short. This study showed that there is more E. coli on these grocery carts than is typically found in a bathroom. Typically bathrooms are disinfected regularly to keep this type of contamination in check.

People sit their children in the seat in the grocery cart and both of them put their hands on the handle of the cart. Some babies even put their mouths on the handles so there is risk of contamination. Scientists report that young children and seniors in particular are susceptible to gastro-intestinal infections like salmonella and E. coli which can cause serious illness.

The researchers are suggesting that you use sanitary wipes or the sanitizing hand cleaner on the handles of the grocery carts before you begin your shop and clean your hands again after you have finished with it. Passing cold and flu germs, in addition to the fecal bacterial can be greatly reduced by simply doing it yourself. Stores do not generally clean their grocery carts so you need to be proactive and protect yourself from infection.

Gerba says you should also pay attention to the ‘green’ reusable shopping bags that you use to bring home your groceries. If you do not wash your shopping bags on a regular basis they become a bacterial breeding ground from the minute dirt particles on produce and from the leaky meat packages.

Keeping everything clean ensures that you do not risk cross-contamination from what you can’t see. It doesn’t take much to start a contamination nightmare.

Using lemon juice and table salt to scrub your cutting boards at home and wipe down your counters is an effective natural way to keep bacteria is check. But as far as reducing the spread of infection good old fashioned soap and water hand washing is best. Research shows that antibacterial soap used on a consistent basis may actually give bacteria a chance to become resistant and develop strains of superbugs that are now antibiotic resistant. So be sure to make it a habit to wash your hands well after you have been shopping.

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