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  • Germs Are Hiding in Plain Sight at the Supermarket! Watch Out for These 7 Spots

    We can’t escape germs but we should at least know where they lurk.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Germs Are Hiding in Plain Sight at the Supermarket! Watch Out for These 7 Spots
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Germs are anywhere, and everywhere we go. It’s outdoors, in the home, and even on our phones, hiding in plain sight. Most of these are not harmful, but some can still cause serious illnesses. Regular handwashing is the best preventive measure, but it will also help if we’re aware of the dirtiest spots when we’re out and about.

    7 dirtiest spots in the supermarket

    Yep, the place where we buy our food is filled with germs. That’s because most bacteria tend to lurk in areas that are touched by most people. Here are the spots to be wary of, especially if your kids are tagging along with you during shopping.

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    Shopping carts

    According to a study, the handles of these carts and even the child seat (where people put produce or raw meat) are “high-contact” areas where some microbes, like diarrhea-causing Campylobacter, E. coli, and salmonella, can survive for up to a few hours. The number of bacteria on these carts is even higher than what’s in the average public restroom, say researchers from the University of Arizona.

    As a precaution, wipe the handle and seat with an antibacterial wipe and wait for 10 to 15 seconds to let the sanitizer work before pushing the cart, says Andrew Lai, MD, an infectious disease specialist, in an interview with Oprah.com.

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    Meat and seafood section

    Raw meat can contain a number of nasty bacteria like E. coli, listeria, and other pathogens, according to The Daily Meal. Take extra precaution, especially if the juice from the meat seeps through the plastic packaging. Lai suggests doubling the plastic to prevent leaks from coming into contact with other food in the cart.

    Here’s a more sustainable option: Bring reusable containers where you can store the meat after the product has been weighed on the scale.

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    Fruit section

    It’s common to touch and handle fruit because you’re searching for the “good ones.” Dents or bruising gives access to pathogens to find their way into fruits and you also have no way of knowing whether pre-sliced fruits have been cut with a clean knife and handled by a person with clean hands. As a rule, always wash fruits before eating it, especially fruits like apples, which are likely to have been touched by a lot of people.

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    Free samples

    I love grocery shopping during the weekends because there are always free food samples in the supermarket I go to. But while free food is tempting, make sure the people handing you the food are wearing gloves or handling the food properly. It’s hard to know for sure whether their hands are clean or not, and frankly, it’s not worth the risk.

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    Checkout counter

    A lot of things come into contact with this supermarket spot — your money, the food you’re buying, the bottom of your bag, and your hands. If the counter has a conveyor belt, yeast, mold, staphylococcus bacteria, and coliforms can accumulate, according to studies.

    The floor

    This goes without saying because the amount of foot traffic supermarkets get daily can already give you an idea of how dirty floors can be. If you’re shopping and food falls on the floor, you can forget about the five-second rule — clean it up and go on your way.

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    Your own shopping bags

    While bringing eco bags to the grocery helps cut down on plastic use, a small study by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University in the US found that almost all reusable bags brought in by customers into supermarkets contained large amounts of bacteria, including E. Coli. Don’t forget to wash your reusable bags and use hot water to kill any dangerous microbes, suggests Lai. For insulated bags, wipe it down with disinfecting wipes.

    Before you freak out about germs and bacteria, it’s worth noting that unless you’re very young, very old, or have a compromised immune system, a quick trip to the grocery will most likely not give you a deadly disease. Exposure to germs and microbes may even help strengthen your child’s immune system!

    Still, you and your family should always practice proper hygiene. Use a hand sanitizer after handling meat and produce and wash your hands after your trip to the grocery. Remember to clean your hands before eating!

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