(Dec. 5) To date, PureCart Systems LLC, Green Bay, Wis., has only two installations in a pair of Wisconsin grocery stores, but president Jim Kratowicz is confident retail chains will soon be clamoring for his shopping cart sanitizer.

“We’ve talked to everyone from $50 billion companies to the regional players,” Kratowicz said. “In a short period of time, all the grocers have learned who we are. They like our product, and they’re kind of looking at each other to see who goes first.”

Festival Foods, Vadnais Heights, Minn., already went first, putting the system in two Wisconsin stores about a year ago. Kratowicz said others could soon follow because of mounting consumer concerns about germs and disease.

A University of Arizona study focusing on germs on public surfaces found that 21% of shopping carts had bodily fluids on the handles. Carts ranked as the third-dirtiest public surface in the report, behind public bathrooms.

Some retailers are providing consumers with sanitizing wipes, and Orangeburg, N.Y.-based Nice-Pak Products Inc. recently introduced no-rinse Sani-Surface shopping cart sanitizing wipes. The company says its wipe is the first designed specifically for surfaces that come into contact with food.

“What you’re really telling the consumer,” Kratowicz said, “is, ‘Our cart is dirty, so go clean it.’ With our system, the cart is already clean.”

PureCart runs carts through a mister that uses a peroxide-based solution. Kratowicz said the solution has been approved for food contact by the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Sanitation Foundation. According to the company, the solution kills more than 99% of bacteria and 90% of viruses.

Kratowicz said the solution has a rust inhibitor and a drying agent that flattens water beads. It takes two to five minutes for carts to dry.

Kratowicz said portable handles and wipes miss the point.

“Our system is much more comprehensive,” he said. “We purify the entire shopping cart. Think of all the things that can happen in a shopping cart. You could have a baby with a diaper leaking into the basket. You could have a leaky package of meat, fish or poultry. We purify areas that usually aren’t.”