Riding in carts with meat

Several years ago, a young girl in Ottawa contracted E. coli O157 after licking the moisture off a package of hamburger on a particularly hot day. The risks of having young children near potentially contaminated food in a shopping cart has been well recognized. And now confirmed.

Researchers at CDC and elsewhere report in the current Journal of Food Protection that kids can be exposed to raw meat and poultry products while riding in shopping carts. Parents, pay attention.

Prevalence of, and factors associated with, this risk factor for Salmonella and campylobacter infection in children younger than 3 years***
Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 73, Number 6, pp. 1097-1100(4)
Patrick, Mary E.; Mahon, Barbara E.; Zansky, Shelley M.; Hurd, Sharon3; Scallan, Elaine
Riding in a shopping cart next to raw meat or poultry is a risk factor for Salmonella and Campylobacter infections in infants. To describe the frequency of, and factors associated with, this behavior, we surveyed parents of children aged younger than 3 years in Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network sites. We defined exposure as answering yes to one of a series of questions asking if packages of raw meat or poultry were near a child in a shopping cart, or if a child was in the cart basket at the same time as was raw meat or poultry. Among 1,273 respondents, 767 (60%) reported that their children visited a grocery store in the past week and rode in shopping carts. Among these children, 103 (13%) were exposed to raw products. Children who rode in the baskets were more likely to be exposed than were those who rode only in the seats (odds ratio [OR], 17.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 11.0 to 28.9). In a multivariate model, riding in the basket (OR, 15.5; 95% CI, 9.2 to 26.1), income less than $55,000 (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.0 to 3.1), and Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.2 to 4.5) were associated with exposure. Our study shows that children can be exposed to raw meat and poultry products while riding in shopping carts. Parents should separate children from raw products and place children in the seats rather than in the baskets of the cart. Retailer use of leak-proof packaging, customer placement of product in a plastic bag and on the rack underneath the cart, use of hand sanitizers and wipes, and consumer education may also be helpful.