Shopping-cart handles are like seats: You never want to feel the warmth of the person who was using it before you. The Barf Blog considers how shopping cart sanitation has evolved over the past five years as grocery stores have sought to find ways to help prevent the spread of germs.
And now, in light of flu season and concerns over the communicability of the H1N1 virus, supermarkets and retail stores are taking preventative measures to lessen customers' exposure to germs. Some stores are offering hand sanitizers via wall-mounted locations or squeeze bottles. Others, like HyVee and Target, are placing sanitizing wipes near the shopping carts, so customers can wipe down the handles.
The Cadillac of germ prevention is the Pure Cart, a system that sprays shopping carts in a manner similar to a car wash. Alas, it hasn't been installed by any of the surrounding stores.
Even if you're making an attempt to wipe the germs off the shopping cart handle, it seems like a doomed effort. I can't help but think of the Ellen DeGeneres joke where she talks about washing your hands and then getting to the bathroom door, only to realize that it's just been touched by the person just before you, who failed to wash her hands.
Eventually you'll need to touch something in the grocery store that has come into contact with lots of people -- the plastic bag dispenser, a lower shelf as you reach for a cereal box, the wand for keying in your PIN number at the register. (For those worried about touching keypads on ATMs or outside buildings, there's the Touch-Stick -- a plastic stand-in for your finger that fits on your key ring.)
For now, though, you can just work on getting a handle on how to handle the shopping cart handle.
[Image via Flickr: dan4th]