Dan Woods, manager of the infectious disease program for Alberta's David Thompson Health Region, said the disinfectant wipes are a good idea but notes that people should be vigilant and adopt a broad approach.
"When you go to the grocery store the entire grocery store should be considered contaminated and really what you should do is to practise good hand hygiene and keep your hands away from your face, which is a primary mode of transmission," he said.
Mike Lupien, a spokesman for Sobeys in Western Canada, said the supermarket chain decided to introduce the disinfectant wipes to curb the transfer of harmful bacteria.
"It's all about protecting our customers and even protecting our staff," Lupien said. "Shopping carts are a place where lots of people put their hands on them and there's different germs and bacteria and such that get on there."
Elenora Simsic, a Sobeys manager in Toronto, says shoppers have responded positively to the wipes.
"They really thought it was a good idea. I've even noticed some customers using [them], wiping their kids faces, if they have chocolate on their hands," she said.
While disinfectant wipes have become common household cleaning tools, experts disagree over their value. Some critics say that washing with hot water and soap is most effective and that many bacteria are in fact helpful and are a part of our natural environment.
Dr. Gerry Predy, medical officer of health for Capital Health Region in Edmonton, says a clinical swab of a grocery cart handle may not turn up much.
"You might not find a lot," he said. "But I would just hazard that you would probably find common skin organisms, you might find some germs that would cause gastrointestinal diarrhea-type illness."
Dominion officials say they don't offer disinfectant wipes to their customers. Similarly, a Loblaws spokesman said the supermarket chain keeps its carts clean and in good repair and has no plans to introduce complimentary wipes to their stores.
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