From the time they bring their little ones home, parents are often on the lookout for places where germs lurk. Washing their children’s’ hands – or urging them to do so once they become older – is of utmost importance in keeping youngsters healthy and safe. There is one place, however, in which parents might not be as on guard against germs.

Shopping carts are an item of modern convenience. A parent or caretaker can place the child in the front compartment and wheel around at a desired pace, filling the basket with necessities. For many, however, placing the child in the cart may mean placing the child at risk.

That is what researchers at the University of Arizona have reported, and what one parent discovered the hard way.

Australian mother Vivienne Wardrop sent a warning out via after her 10-month-old son contracted adenovirus, rotavirus and Salmonella poisoning, which caused the baby to develop meningitis, “because of the strain on his body.” Because the child had not been anywhere – except shopping – in the week before his illness, doctors “advised” that the shopping cart must have been the source of the exposure. The baby, Logan, who landed in the intensive care unit (ICU) for eight days, recovered, but the story lingered on the minds of those who learned of the ordeal.

Shared over 12,700 times, the post urged parents not to place the child in a shopping cart without properly wiping it down or using a seat cover. Many of the over four thousand people who commented were shocked to know that illness this serious could potentially originate from an ordinary ride in a shopping cart.

In fact, a surprising number of germs reside on shopping cart handles. That is what researchers from the University of Arizona detected when they studied 85 random shopping carts found in the grocery store parking lots of five major metropolitan areas. University of Arizona Microbiologist , Ph.D., and Sherri Maxwell discovered an overwhelming number of germs on shopping carts. Surprisingly, 51% of the cart handles tested positive for the dangerous and sometimes deadly E. coli bacteria, while 72% tested positive for coliforms (bacteria found in feces and often associated with poor sanitary conditions), according to the .

“The common occurrence of coliform and E. coli bacteria on shopping carts indicates that the consumer is exposed to enteric bacteria on a regular basis when using grocery shopping carts,” states the study. “Total bacterial levels are far greater than those found in public restrooms and other public places and objects that are commonly touched in these environments (airports, bus stations, public bathroom, shopping malls, etc.)”

While many stores now supply disinfectant wipes near shopping cart receptacles for the health and safety of their patrons, not everyone uses them. According to the , Walgreens stopped supplying wipes, because use of them was sparse. The article asserts that people do not use the wipes, believing their hand-washing practices are adequate protection.

While using a protective barrier or disposable wipe can go a long way toward ensuring the health and safety of a baby, , professor of biology at Simmons College in Boston told that it goes farther than that. The founder and co-director of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, told that if she gets raw chicken on her hands, she asks for a wipe. She believes the danger of illness from raw meat, fish, poultry and vegetables is greater than any other risk in a grocery store.

Gerber made a similar assertion in 2008. highlighted the earlier University of Arizona study that warned of germs – particularly those from raw products – that reside on shopping cart handles. In short, the article challenged parents to think about the risks: Not only are children riding in a place where raw meat has been – or been touched by someone touching the cart – but also, a parent may be placing “broccoli right where the kid’s butt was.”

Likewise, in 2010, the said riding in a shopping cart next to raw meat is a risk factor for Salmonella and Campylobacter Infection – with 13 percent of children exposed to raw products. The article stated that use of a leak-proof plastic bag, placing the meat on the rack under the cart, and using hand sanitizer or a wipe after handling meat was helpful in reducing the risk.

The concurs, advising that safe food handling involves keeping meat, poultry seafood and eggs separate from other foods by using plastic bags to protect other items in the grocery cart, reusable bags, and even the refrigerator at home.


Dear Sister and Brother,

1. God never fails.

2. God will never turn his back on you.

3. I pray that whatever you are going through in your life, God will show you a way through it and that you be showered with His mercy and grace.

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— Aaron Tabor, MD, Founder of Jesus Daily®

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