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How Sanitary Is That Shopping Cart?

Television station WTLV in Jacksonville, Florida recently swabbed some ordinary grocery items and got some startling results — ten times out of 10, there were germs on that shopping cart.

The station sent a crew into several grocery stores to pick up a few things that were out in the open, like fruits and vegetables. A bag was the only thing to touch them. The station also swabbed a number of carts inside and out, where shoppers put their hands and where children sit and touch.

WTLV took the shopping cart swabs, as well as apples, grapes, blueberries, peppers and cucumbers, to the labs at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

The swabs and the fruits and vegetables were then cultured to watch the bacteria grow. A day later, the results were available, and what the station saw wasn’t so appetizing. WTLV reported that from the cart swabs, nothing was dangerous. It was bacteria one would find in the environment or on healthy people.

The bad news came from the fruit and vegetable test. Researchers found bacteria from the same family as salmonella and shigella on the cucumber. As for the other fruits and vegetables, the apple had the least amount of bacteria. The blueberries and grapes had the most.

"Hand washing is the cheapest and most efficient way of preventing infections," said Dr. Mobene Rathore, of Shands Jacksonville.

And wash what you buy.