Grocery Store Must-Know Facts: The Germy Side of the Store You Don’t See

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Learn the Facts: Germs at the Grocery Store

Learn the Facts: Germs at the Grocery Store

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“Ick” alert! These facts may gross you out (sorry!) but knowledge is power. Keep yourself healthy (and your kiddos) by watching out for these hidden dangers at your favorite grocery store. Learn the facts and share this post on Facebook and Twitter.

Update 1/31/2014

The winners of the four $25 Visa gift cards are Ashley Barrett, Kimberly Hester, Donna Gibson, and Debbie Ellis! Please send us a private message on Facebook with your shipping information and we will get those out to you! Congratulations!

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Hidden Germs and The Side of the Grocery Store You Don’t See (Transcript)

Where is one of the absolute germiest places you can visit? … Surprise (and we’re sure this is not what you want to hear):
It’s where you buy your food!

Did you know there’s a 72% chance your shopping cart has POOP on it?


Have you taken a look lately at everything that’s been recalled at your local SaveMart, Jewel Osco, Kroger, Meijer or Walmart store (or any of your other favorite grocery stores, for that matter)?

Recent FDA recalls have cited LISTERIA, SALMONELLA, and just plain inaccurate ingredient labeling!

How about your organic produce? It could contain a bacteria called aeromonas hydrophilia.


Your local supermarket could be (and probably is) harboring loads of just plain gross stuff.

You always swab your cart handle with a complimentary wipe, check expiration dates, and you’re careful not to sneeze around the salad bar.
Good places to start, but here’s a rundown of the hot spots where grocery-store bacteria tend to breed.

First off, know what conditions bacteria like

Bacteria love:

  • Non-smooth surfaces
  • Moisture
  • Warmth

So obvious places to look out?

  • Produce aisle: Those veggie misters can create a wet heaven for germs.
  • Deli samples: Just say no!
  • Did you wash your hands before grabbing a taste? Chances are someone else didn’t either. In 2010, an E Coli breakout was traced to cheese samples at Costco.

Now, back to shopping cart germs

Keep up that sanitary-wipe action.

Don’t want to gross you out, but about those poopy shopping carts: a 2007 study revealed fecal bacteria on 2/3s of the carts at an AZ market.

If that didn’t faze you (ew!): Remember, colds and flu can be spread this way too.

  • If your store doesn’t provide wipes, carry your own or buy a reusable cover.
  • Always use a seat cover if your infant rides in the cart.
  • Keep the raw meat away from little hands unless you happen to like the idea of Salmonella.
  • No kids in the seat? Guarantee that some other little behinds were there at some time.

Moral of the story: Don’t put food in the seat area at all.

Surprise: “Antibacterial” can backfire on you

You probably have bought an antibacterial soap product at some time or another. It seems to be the right thing to do with all this stuff swimming around, right?

Be careful: Antibacterial products can cause more harm than good.

Many “antibacterial”-labeled items contain an ingredient called triclosan.

Triclosan can contribute to health issues such as allergies and asthma, disrupt hormones, and can even contribute to the growth of stronger bacterial strains.

In most cases, regular soap does the job just fine. Don’t bother with the antibacterial varieties.

Ready to check out?

The conveyor belt at the checkout line can be laden with germs. Many stores are careful to clean these, but some aren’t diligent.

Although food touches them, belts are considered a “non-food surface” and aren’t subject to inspection.

An independent lab study in 2013 showed that belts can be contaminated with mold. Never let unbagged produce touch the belt.

Don’t forget the reusable bags!

Yes, they’re helping the planet, but they’re also DIRTY. 97% of shoppers never wash their bags. Do you?

If you don’t, consider this. It’s like wearing the same underwear every single day. Gross!

Shoppers also aren’t cautious to separate meats and vegetables. This is a risk that can result in food contamination.

Oh yeah, and bags also get used for all sorts of non-food uses. Not the cleanest idea to put your groceries where your gym clothes or library book once was.

So what now that you know all this?

  • There’s no need to outright panic
  • Most of us, after all, have shopped all our lives at these stores
  • Wipe down your cart
  • Avoid the sample tables
  • Use hand sanitizer (and your kids, too!)
  • Be cautious of ingredients in personal care items.
  • Bag all produce and wash carefully at home.
  • Keep meat separate from produce (and your kids!)
  • Wash your reusable bags regularly in hot, soapy water
  • Continue to enjoy the benefits of going to the grocery store (don’t forget your coupons! ;) ) and eating healthy, home-prepared food!

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