The Spread of a Norovirus Surrogate via Reusable Grocery Bags in a Grocery Supermarket


The conventional supermarket represents an important public access to a wide variety of food that is vital for healthy families. The supermarket is also a location where food, the public, and pathogens can meet. The purpose of this study was to develop and test a hypothesized norovirus transmission pathway via reusable grocery bags (RGBs) within a conventional grocery supermarket. An RGB was inoculated with a surrogate virus to assess potential transport of pathogens within a grocery store. Volunteer shoppers were given an RGB sprayed with a surrogate (bacteriophage MS2) upon entry to a grocery store. A surrogate is defined in this study as an organism, particle, or substance that is used to study the fate and transport of a pathogen in a specific environment (Sinclair, Rose, Hashsham, Gerba, & Haas, 2012). The study personnel swabbed all surfaces touched by the volunteer shopper to recover MS2 surrogate. The data show that MS2 spread to all surfaces touched by the shopper; the highest concentration occurred on the shopper’s hands, the checkout stand, and the clerk’s hands. The high concentration of the MS2 on hands justify a recommendation for in-store hand hygiene as a primary preventive measure against transmission of infectious pathogens. The high concentrations on the checkout stand justify a secondary recommendation for surface disinfection and public education about washing RGBs.

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Speaker / Author: 
Ryan Sinclair, MPH, PhD, Loma Linda University School of Public Health
Lindsay Fahnestock, MPH, Loma Linda University School of Public Health
Andre Feliz, MS, MD, Environmental Safety Alliance
Jaimini Patel, MPH, REHS, Loma Linda University School of Public Health
Christopher Perry, PhD, Loma Linda University Division of Biochemistry, School of Medicine
Month Year: 
June 2018
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
June 2018
EH Topics: