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What's the poop on those shopping cart handles?

Wednesday - 3/2/2011, 6:41am  ET

grocery cart (AP)
Wipe down your cart before using it. (AP)

UNDATED - You may not give it a thought. You grab the nearest shopping cart and settle your little one in the seat when he promptly grabs the handles, ready for the ride. But the bacterial contamination that's on those cart handles might have you thinking twice about what you automatically do.

The contamination includes E. coli and fecal bacteria. Yep, poop.

University of Arizona researcher Charles Gerba says the amount and types of bacteria you find are more than what's in the grocery store's restroom.

Gerba's research, conducted in four states, found 72 percent of the 85 cars examined turned out to have a marker for fecal bacteria, MSNBC reports.

E. coli was found on half of the carts.

Your kids probably won't get sick hanging onto the cart handles and even licking them.

Doctors say there haven't been any outbreaks of disease linked to dirty shopping carts.

Just the same, your best defense is to use those disinfectant wipes the stores now offer since supermarkets don't make it a routine practice to wipe down the carts.

You'll find nasty bacteria on reusable shopping bags, baby car seats and doorknobs.

Health professionals also recommend just what you and your mom would: Keep your hands and your children's hands clean.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)