We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

To Fight Filthy Produce, Use a Shopping Cart "Misting Machine"

By Nina Bai
Nov 14, 2008 12:20 AMNov 5, 2019 8:47 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

What’s more germy than a public toilet?It’s not a subway car handrail. It’s the shopping carts in grocery stores, according to a study last year that measured saliva, bacteria, and fecal matter on shopping cart handles.Both store owners and customers have sought ways to combat the filthy carts, from disinfectant wipes to cart liners to snap-on handles, with limited success.The latest clean-cart idea looks like a mini-car wash and sprays the entire cart with a mist of peroxide solution.PureCart Systems says their machines kill 99 percent of germs on carts.

More than 20 supermarkets across the country have installed PureCart machines, which cost about $8,000 a year.The machines appear to be popular with shoppers, especially those with young children. And with good reason: Among babies, contact with raw meat packaging is the second leading cause of Salmonella infection. Only reptile exposure is more dangerous.“[Kids] don’t necessarily have the best sanitary habits,” microbiologist Chuck Gerba said.“And you’re putting your broccoli right where the kid’s butt was.”

For more mature shoppers, experts say the best bet is still handwashing, though recent studies indicate your fellow shoppers probably aren’t taking that advice.So if your local supermarket doesn’t have a PureCart machine yet, check Google Flu Trends before heading out the door.

Related Content: DISCOVER: What Invisible Things Are in the Surfaces You Touch and Air You Breathe? DISCOVER: The Biology of...Hand-Washing Discoblog: Since Sick People Surf the Web, Google Now Tracking Flu Trends

Image: flickr / JaeYong, BAE

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.