With almost every Indian city and town dotting with supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores and modernized kirana stores offering “super convenience” and “best shopping experience” to customers, how many of us do really bother to see the trolleys and baskets which we use to fill goods and bring them to checkouts, are really clean and free from germs?
According to a recent study, supermarket shopping baskets or trolleys contain 361 times more bacteria/germs than a toilet door handle, and if you happen to visit such a store in your locality again with your kid/s, see to it that the handles and other parts are clean and well maintained.
Sujata Venkatesan, who frequents a nearby convenience store in Chennai says, “Smaller stores which have converted their store set-up to compete with larger stores like Supermarkets or Hypermart seldom maintain their trolleys and baskets fearing overhead cost. I have seen some of the kirana shops in my locality which have changed their traditional look to include display racks, modern Point of Sale (POS) system and other utility items such as trolleys and baskets, CCTV etc, are least concerned to maintain baskets and trolleys. Most of the trolleys’ handles and wheels are worn-out or broken with full of stains.”
However, she says that supermarket stores and other high-profile showrooms do take care to upkeep their store hygiene and also maintain utility products frequently used by customers.
According to the study, three-quarters of trolleys and baskets examined across a range of stores in several cities contained the most harmful type of bacteria, which included the deadly Salmonella and Escherichia Coli (E. Coli).
The revelation was made after testing the handle surfaces from four types of stores: traditional grocery/kirana stores, small departmental stores, upscale stores and supermarket showrooms.
But how to ensure that you don’t contract illness from the unclean shopping trolleys?
"Different people handle the same basket and trolley at different point of time on a single day. Not all may have good hand hygiene. So, shopping trolley handles are the medium for spreading bacteria or viruses is totally misplaced. Rather, customers should focus on good hygiene practices,” counters Sundar, owner of Green Grain Supermarket at Koyambedu in Chennai.
"Trolleys, like all other store utility items, are maintained and cleaned regularly in addition to being exposed to sunlight which is nature's best sanitizer,” he says.
Sujata suggests: “These stores should have hand sanitizer kiosks to help customers beat germs.”
"Our shopping baskets and trolleys are regularly monitored to ensure they are germ-free," says a supermarket store representative in Annanagar.
However, the lab test findings by a private firm also justify Sujata’s observation, saying, trolleys of small store contain 270 times more germs than a toilet handle.
Those at superstores were surprisingly cleaner, but still had bacteria three times the level than a kitchen cabinet knob, the test report concludes.
So, it is better to be safe than sorry. Do choose the shopping trolley and basket which are clean and also maintain your personal hand hygiene to avoid falling sick.
Happy and healthy shopping!