Campus Life Blog: E. coli Found on Shopping Carts

March 8, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Posted by Elena Harding
ehatding@smu.edu

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

Gross.

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.