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Consumer Advocates Call Attention to Microbes on Grocery Checkstand Belts

From Food Safety Magazine

A consumer advocacy organization has launched a campaign to put conveyor belts at supermarket checkout stands under the microscope — literally. Called Good Armor, the group recently issued a press release referring to the checkstand belts as “bacteria-infested,” noting that “shoppers place billions of products on these contaminated belts each year, exposing foods to potentially harmful yeasts, molds, and coliform bacteria.”

Good Armor executive director Marc Dorfman explained that because the conveyor belts are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), they are extremely durable, with a lifespan of 30+ years. However, Dorfman said, the material is also porous, “so you can scrub them day and night, but you will never get them clean” from a microbiological standpoint. He claimed that even if a supermarket replaces an old belt, the new belt will be fully contaminated within six months.

The solution to this problem, Dorfman said, is found in advanced technology products and surface materials that prevent bacterial growth. He noted that recently, leading grocers such as Jewel Osco, Weis Markets, Giant Eagle and Spartan Stores have begun installing antimicrobial conveyor belt covers.

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