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Grocery shelves are usually pretty packed, so it’s hard to see anything beyond the very front of the shelves. Stores obviously always want their shelves to be fully stocked. Unfortunately, that can lead to the inner depths of those shelves being less than clean—even though they’re still holding food that people will probably end up buying. Martina D., a former grocery store employee, has a first-person account of the unpleasant state of the backs, and bottoms, of grocery shelves. “Unless there is a spill on them, they are not cleaned much,” she told Reader’s Digest. “In one location I worked, we were moving the shelves around to redesign the store. Not only was there various food [residue] under them, but also a huge cockroach!” No, thank you! While this is probably an extreme example, keep in mind that it may have been a while since those shelves have been scrubbed clean.
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Think about how many people troop across supermarket floors, coming in from the outdoors in all kinds of weather. Unfortunately, the level of cleaning that those floors get doesn’t always match the amount of foot traffic. And David Serville, CEO of New Zealand–based commercial cleaning company Crewcare, warns that, even if the floors look clean, they might not be. “When the floor is freshly polished, customers would be convinced that it’s genuinely clean,” he says. “But mopping and polishing aren’t all there is to it. What you need to be careful of are the grocery items located right next to the floor: dusty bags of chips, squished juice boxes that can lead to spills (and attract ants!) and unidentifiable products left on the floor for a long time. These are the things you need to pay attention to.” These are the top brands of hardwood floor cleaners.
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You’ve probably heard some statistics about how many germs are lurking on your cell phone screen. Now imagine what screens that scores of people prod at every day are like—specifically, people who “have been casually picking up and handling produce, packaged meats, money and shopping carts,” adds Dr. Nidhi Ghildayal, PhD, a Public Health Researcher at the University of Minnesota. So, yeah, opting for the self-checkout to avoid the potential germs lurking by the register area may not be your best option. “In general, screens are not sanitized often enough to keep up with the number of shoppers that pass through,” Dr. Ghildayal says. Luckily, though, this is another potentially germy situation that you can somewhat alleviate by toting wipes with you to add a buffer between you and the germs.