Many of us fondly remember the days of grocery shopping with our moms as children. She would strap us into the car seat and drive us to the nearest supermarket to get all of her weekly purchases out of the way. As kids, we would enjoy sitting in the special kids’ platform of the shopping cart, the metal bars warming up against our tiny kid-legs as we munched on the cheese from the man at the deli. While the parents in our generation weren’t quite as concerned with germs as the parents in the modern age, they still told us to wash our hands after such excursions. However, new studies show that sitting in the shopping cart with all of the groceries might actually put children directly into contact with salmonella.

By now, you probably know that salmonella exists on raw meats, specifically chicken. Proper food handling and safety is the best protection against salmonella. Unfortunately, it’s not always enough. When your young baby or child is sitting into the shopping cart next to the meat you’re buying, he or she could easily get salmonella poisoning. The meat in the grocery store is not packaged in a way that is completely protective. Though you’re probably safe after handling it, a baby’s delicate immune system might not be.

If you’re buying meat and your baby of five years old or less is at the store with you, keep the packaged meats away. Meat that is more sealed, such as pre-packaged lunchmeats or frozen food, does not pose the same problem. The study does not suggest that you can never buy raw meat with your child again, but it does recommend that you keep the package as far away from your child as possible until you get home. The light plastic wrapping is not a strong enough barrier.

Salmonella is extremely dangerous for children. If your child contracted it, it could be fatal. For that reason, you should take whatever measures necessary to prevent it. While your child happily sits in the cart, wait until the end of your trip to stop at the meat section. That way, there won’t be enough time for your toddler to touch it. Also, keep it in the back if your child is in the front, or vice versa. To prevent contact with someone else’s’ meat, bring sanitary wipes and give the cart a quick scrub.

Source: Mary Patrick et al: Riding in Shopping Carts and Exposure to Raw Meat and Poultry Products: 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 Issue 6 pp. 1097-1100 2010

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