In a test of shopping baskets from grocery stores in Bollnäs in central Sweden, none of them passed standards for safe food handling.
Grocery store shopping baskets are pure paradise for bacteria from leaking meat and dairy packaging, among other items. Microorganisms from humans, leaking meat and dairy containers and filth from shop floors all contribute to the unhygienic conditions in the baskets.
The test was carried out on behalf of the newspaper Ljusnan. The baskets basically had nearly the same bacterial level as the floor of the stores.
“It is obvious that the baskets are not clean. They must think like a customer,” said Bjorn Walldén, food inspector in the municipality of Bollnäs.
There are no rules in the Food Act governing the hygiene standards and maintenance of shopping baskets and carts.
“We have drawn attention to this to businesses, that they should think about hygiene regarding shopping baskets and carts,” added Helena Skoglund, city food inspector.
Although it is obvious that supermarket shopping baskets are filthy, often visible to the naked eye, few store managers actually clean them more than every other month.
The results were classified in three categories: good, bad and inadequate cleaning. Only the first category passed for safe food handling. None of the baskets that were tested by the newspaper ranked in the first category.
All produced results significantly higher than those classified as poor cleaning. The test included all the major supermarkets in Bollnäs, ICA, Coop, Lidl and Tempo.
To put the amount of bacteria in the baskets in context, each store floor was also tested. The amount of bacteria was only marginally higher than that found on the floor.