business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Chicago Tribune had a story over the weekend about how "a microbiology professor who has tested shopping carts in major markets, including Chicago, says they're dirtier than public restrooms, diaper-changing tables, chair armrests and playground equipment, among other things." The paper suggested that an uptick in flu cases in Chicago during the flu season even might have been slowed if shopping carts were cleaner.

It gets worse: "Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiology professor, has conducted tests on shopping carts in several markets, including in Chicago, and found that they're more likely to have E. coli present than escalators, ATM buttons and restaurant tabletops and condiment holders, among other things. Gerba said 70 percent of the shopping carts he examined in Chicago in 2014 had the presence of E. coli."

While global sales if sanitizing wipes "are expected to grow to $11.3 billion in 2019, up from $9.1 billion last year, partly due to growing awareness about hygiene," there's also a sobering bit of information in the story - "many consumers don't use the wipes, saying they wash their hands enough already."

In fact, in Chicago, where "Jewel, Whole Foods, Potash Markets, Treasure Island, Plum Market, Mariano's and Target are among the retailers that typically offer wet towelette dispensers," Walgreen doesn't, saying that even do it anymore, saying that "demand for them was very light."

I just want to say that I, for one, am totally grossed out ... and while I'm not an assiduous user of such wipes for grocery carts, that's about to change. I think that it is possible to be over-cautious about germs, but dirtier than public restrooms?

KC's View: