Gardening & Living in Grand Style
Bacteria on shopping carts and BPA on receipts…
by Michael Johnson
Oct 24, 2013 | 1848 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week, I found myself in a discussion that included the possible health hazards of bacteria on shopping carts and the use of bisphenol A, or BPA, in ink on receipts. After the discussion I was asked to write an article briefly touching on some of the known information on these two topics.

As most of us have seen, many stores now have disinfecting wipes located near their shopping carts and baskets. If you aren’t a user of these wipes you might have asked yourself why people are bothering. It’s because studies have shown large amounts of bacteria can often be found on the handles of shopping carts and baskets. These bacteria can range from Campylobacter to salmonella and E. coli, all of which could cause illnesses. The amounts found were higher than those seen in public restrooms, although that is likely due to restrooms being regularly cleaned, which is not the case with shopping carts and baskets. Also, besides bacteria there could be issues when people with colds or the flu use shopping carts or baskets. The Centers for Disease Control notes that both the cold and flu viruses can generally survive on hard surfaces between two and eight hours.

Some stores in the U.S. have instituted regular cleaning regimes for their carts to help limit bacteria levels. Regardless of whether your stores do this, you can do your part by cleaning the handles and even the seats on shopping carts with disinfecting wipes.

All this being said, many in the medical community would suggest the risk isn’t very high for catching anything from a shopping cart. But being proactive can’t hurt.

Also, the best defense against germs is to regularly wash your hands. And if you touch potentially contaminated surfaces don’t touch your face until after you clean your hands thoroughly.

When these reports regarding contamination started coming out some years back, I began using the disinfecting wipes and also kept a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my vehicle to clean my hands once I left the store. At least, that was, until I read a report about BPA being used in the ink on receipts and how handling receipts increased the amount of BPA that could enter your system. Of even more concern was that once the BPA was on your hands, using an alcohol sanitizer could cause even more BPA to enter your system.

BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical that has been used for decades in the manufacturing of hard plastic food containers and the lining of metal food and beverage cans. As such it’s thought most people have some traces of BPA in their systems. The question is whether there is a health risk, and at this time, as is often the case, some scientists believe there could be a health risk while others do not. The situation is still being sorted out.

Regardless, my intent here is not to get into debating the health aspects of this, but just to increase awareness. Most of us handle receipts on a daily basis and this could lead to an increase in the amount of BPA in your system. Until more information comes to light, you can limit your exposure to BPA by carefully handling receipts or just not taking them.

It’s always good to be aware of what’s going on, but understand that simple precautions can be very effective and these issues don’t need to disrupt your daily lives.

Thought for the day: “A healthy outside starts from the inside.” —Robert Urich

For more information about these topics call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 435-259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at

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