Campus Life Blog: E. coli Found on Shopping Carts

March 8, 2011  

Posted by Elena Harding

E. Coli and and other bacteria found on shopping cart handles in grocery stores indicates the presence of fecal matter.


Researchers form the University of Arizona’s department of soil, water and environmental science tested 85 shopping carts in grocery store parking lots. Half the carts tested had E. coli on them and more than 70 percent had coliforms.

Charts Courtesy of University of Arizona Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science

The research noted that, “the exceptionally high level of coliform bacteria suggests that fecal material may be involved in cart contamination.”

They also tested other common surfaces in public areas. It turns out there is more bacteria on a shopping cart handle than a diaper changing table.

One explanation proposed in the research paper is that carts are exposed to numerous contamination sources. While in the parking lots of grocery stores, carts may be exposed to the fecal matter of birds and other animals. In the grocery store, carts are used to transport raw foods and may come in contact with other shoppers of questionable hygiene.

Again, gross.

So, be sure to bring disinfectant wipes or antibacterial soap on your next trip to the grocery store.

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One Response to “Campus Life Blog: E. coli Found on Shopping Carts”

  1. Alec West on March 9th, 2011 12:30 am

    The danger can be divided into two parts – fecal bacteria – and E.Coli bacteria. I’m not sure what can be done about the E.Coli bacteria. But I have, what I think, is the DEFINITIVE answer to fecal bacteria.

    I have clerked in grocery stores and have an opinion I don’t see mentioned in previous posts by others. Frankly, I think the amount of fecal matter found on shopping carts could be significantly reduced by doing only one thing – banning “babies” from being brought into ANY store where shopping carts are used. All you need is one leaky diaper … or a kid who takes a diaper-dump, scratches his/her behind, then starts touching ANYTHING inside the cart (and outside the cart, for that matter).