The research concludes that the only shopping cart in which no microbial organism was detected after five months’ real and continued use in stores is the Loop compact cart with antibacterial handle made by Araven
The study “Evaluation of microbial contamination in shopping carts” was carried out by the prestigious Plant-based Food Research Group at the University of Zaragoza
After analysing more than 80 carts of various makes in different shopping centres, all of them except the Araven model with the antibacterial handle displayed a significant presence and risk of transfer of bacteria to users
Eight years ago, the Aragonese firm was the first in the world to introduce this technique to shopping baskets with the aim of achieving maximum hygiene in retail shopping equipment used by millions of people every day.
A research paper published by the University of Zaragoza entitled “Evaluation of microbial contamination in shopping carts” reveals that only by means of an innovative treatment like the one implemented by Araven on its compact Loop 100 L and Loop 160 L carts can the total elimination (up to 99.99%) of bacteria, yeasts and mould be guaranteed, preventing the transfer of micro-organisms that are harmful to health between users. Furthermore, significant bacteria levels were found in all the other makes of cart they analysed that lacked this additive.
The Aragonese company Araven, a leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of shopping baskets and carts for equipping retail sales outlets, was the first on the market to pioneer an antibacterial handle, a technique that in 2010 it incorporated into its 34-litre basket and later extended to its 52-litre basket, as well as its 160-litre and 100-litre shopping carts. The research study on the effectiveness of these handles focused specifically on the Loop 160 L model, the first cart to be fitted as standard with an antimicrobial handle. It is also a compact cart - its largest dimension is no more than twice the size of the smallest one, another Araven innovation – and it comes with a wrap-around handle, which makes it easier to move around the store.
The conclusions of this university research indicate that all microbial populations on Araven cart handles remain at “undetectable levels” after five months’ real use, whereas “contamination on the other carts is significantly higher”. This means that only Araven can guarantee virtually zero risk of bacterial transmission from the use of a cart with bacterial or fungal contamination, an especially important guarantee in a product that is used every day by millions of people of all ages and that can convey sensitive materials such as food.
The research study “Evaluation of microbial contamination in shopping carts” was carried out by the Plant-based Food Research Group at the University of Zaragoza under the direction of Dr Rosa Oria, Professor of Food Technology and Dr Eugenia Venturini, who is a tenured lecturer. Both researchers belong to the Aragon University Institute of Mixed Agro-Food Research (IA2). This research group is one of the most prestigious in its field in Spain and specialises in the preservation of foodstuffs and conservation of their qualities.
As part of the research, samples were taken from the handle grip area of more than eighty shopping carts and subjected to microbiological analysis. Firstly, microbial populations on ten Loop 160 L models and on a further 10 carts without antimicrobial treatment were studied and established as the reference at Araven’s warehouses before being put into service. At a second sampling session after five months’ service in various shopping centres, 18 of these carts were re-tested, as were a further 16 carts in use for two years (also without an antimicrobial handle). Finally, in a third analysis, the same measurements were taken from 30 carts made by other manufacturers, selected among those available at three large supermarket and hypermarket chains.
The table of results shows that initial contamination levels are similar and very low in all carts, whether pre-treated or not, where the average reading was respectively between 40 and 50 micro-organisms per cm2. When tested after the various periods of use, the colonies of micro-organisms had risen to 1,000 micro-organisms per cm2 in carts without antimicrobial treatment, while for those with treated handles the result was zero, which proves how this procedure eliminates bacteria by reducing them to levels below the measuring technique’s threshold of detection.
This is achieved by including an additive based on ZPT (zinc pyrithione) in the plastic of the handle that acts on the wall or cell membrane of micro-organisms to prevent their growth or the protein synthesis they need to thrive. In addition, micro-organisms do not develop immunity and so the product does not affect the properties of the plastic. The long-term durability of the effect is another feature of the formula used by Araven and as the authors of this research point out in their conclusions, the results over the five month period “lead us to think that it exerts its action over the cart’s entire service lifetime”.
The results of this fieldwork come as confirmation of the results of Araven’s own laboratory tests performed in accordance with ISO standard 22196 (specific for plastic materials), which produced the same results: bacteria disappear.
Equally remarkable are the results of measurements taken to compare Araven carts after two years’ service with those of other makes. In this instance, none of the carts had the anti-bacteria additive but the testing showed that the microbial load on those designed and manufactured by the Aragonese firm was 3.6 log CFU/cm2, while on the competitors’ models that figure rose up to 4.7.
Once again, this datum illustrates Araven’s ongoing vocation for the integral care of its products, by taking all aspects into account but especially by employing innovative designs and techniques that guarantee maximum hygiene, as demonstrated for example in the nesting or slope of its baskets and carts.
The Shop & Roll range of retail equipment began in 2005 with the first shopping basket in the world to incorporate a telescopic handle and wheels and was enhanced in 2014 with the compact Loop 100 L cart, two revolutionary and innovative designs based on ergonomics, optimisation of space, long-term durability, and retail shopping hygiene, as this recent research shows.
In this regard, the innovation and design process prior to releasing a new product onto the market involves a capital outlay of up to one million Euros, all of which is protected by various patents.
This commitment to excellence is the key to the success of Araven’s products, which are used by major retail chains in 74 countries on five continents. To date, the company has sold almost 7 million baskets and more than 150,000 shopping carts. In 2017 alone, 700,000 baskets and 67,000 carts were sold.
Founded in 1976, the company headquarters are in Villanueva de Gállego (Zaragoza, Spain), with branches in the United States and Mexico. It is a leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of products for the food service industry and retail shopping equipment. Internationalisation and innovation are its two main hallmarks.
In addition to the retail sector, Araven caters to the needs of food service professionals around the world. It has become the leading company in the food preservation and handling sector in Europe, with a range of more than 400 clearly differentiated products that serve to equip the cold stores of kitchens in all types of catering establishments.