x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Supermarket chain fights germs with sanitising gel for customers

The handle of a supermarket trolley can hold almost 10 times more germs than anything else touched in an average day.

Mustafa Mirza, a shopper, uses hand sanitiser in the Aswaaq supermarket in Dubai's Al Mizhar area yesterday.
Mustafa Mirza, a shopper, uses hand sanitiser in the Aswaaq supermarket in Dubai's Al Mizhar area yesterday.

Dubai // The handle of a supermarket trolley can hold almost 10 times more germs than anything else touched in an average day. That alarming fact inspired Aswaaq Supermarkets to install hand sanitiser gel at the entrances to its stores last week. The company is urging customers to start their shop by applying the sanitiser to kill germs and help contain swine flu.

Mustafa Mirza, a regular shopper at the Aswaaq supermarket in Al Mizhar area, says he and his family have been using the hand sanitiser every time they shop there. "I think this should be introduced in all stores," he said. "A lot of different kinds of people use the trolleys and this causes germs on it. Sanitising our hands will protect us from such germs." Aswaaq's management said the outbreak of the H1N1 virus had prompted them to install the sanitiser units.

"When the H1N1 came into public attention, we were convinced to launch this initiative without delay," said Ebtesam al Khaja, the food hygiene manager. "Given the fact that people can easily contract flu and viruses just from touching something that a sick person has touched makes the hand sanitisers even more crucial to help prevent the spread of germs. "An average trolley is touched by approximately 20 people per day, any of whom could have a cold, flu symptoms or other germs."

The sanitising gel has been put in the company's three outlets in Al Sufouh, Nad Al Hamar and Al Mizhar. Aswaaq has for some time been spraying the trolleys with a sanitiser after each use, Ms al Khaja said. Dubai Municipality has been warning supermarkets and shoppers about germs on shopping trolleys. While no regulations are in place, several awareness drives have been initiated. The public health and safety department asked shoppers to clean their hands after shopping. Seating babies on the trolley should be seriously discouraged, officials said.

"Wash your hands upon completion of shopping, especially your child's hands if he was put on the chair of the trolley," the municipality said in a statement. "Use antibacterial wipes to clean and disinfect the cart handles." The department claims a trolley handle can harbour almost 10 times more germs than anything else touched in a day. Swabs taken from handles have shown germs, viruses, bacteria and body fluids, officials said. Sources of germs on the carts are usually from meat, poultry products, body fluids, children sitting on the carts and illness carried by customers.

pmenon@thenational.ae