In a what is claimed to be a world first, a Brazilian supermarket has introduced supermarket trolleys with antimicrobial copper handles to help reduce the spread of disease-causing pathogens.
Typically made of plastic, trolley handles are touched by many different hands, in rapid succession, every day, making them a major vector for spreading contamination. A US study of shopping trolleys found 72% of those tested were positive for faecal bacteria and half showed traces of E. coli. Such pathogens can survive on hard surfaces for days or even months. The research team's recommendation was the handles were disinfected before each use1.
Varanda Frutas – a gourmet supermarket in São Paulo used by around 5.5 thousand customers daily – has opted for brass handles on their trolleys that will continuously eliminate bacteria and viruses deposited on them, helping reduce the risk of infections spreading as multiple people touch them.
'The new trolleys have been well-received,' says Mauricio Chairvolotti, Marketing Manager for Varanda Frutas. 'Our main aim is to protect our customers' health by reducing bacteria and viruses on these surfaces, offering improved hygiene.'
Copper is a powerful antimicrobial with rapid, broad-spectrum efficacy against bacteria and viruses, including E.coli and norovirus. It shares this benefit with a range of copper alloys – including brasses – forming a family of materials collectively called 'antimicrobial copper'. Touch surfaces made from solid antimicrobial copper are used by healthcare facilities around the world to reduce the spread of infections such as MRSA.
Varanda Frutas is the latest public space to benefit from the antimicrobial properties of copper, joining Congonhas Airport – also in São Paulo, Brazil – subway stations and trains in Chile, buses in Beijing and childcare centres in Japan that already use antimicrobial copper to help provide a safer and healthier environment.
1. Bacterial Contamination of Shopping Carts and Approaches to Control
Charles P. Gerba, Sheri Maxwell
Food Protection Trends, vol. 32, no. 12, pp. 747-749, December 2012