Depending on where you shop, you may see rolls of plastic bags hanging in the meat department. Even better, there may also be hand wipes available too. My suggestion after reading the links? Make sure you USE the bags and wipes! I have made it a habit to put my meat selections into plastic bags. I wanted to keep the packages from touching other products in my cart and when bagged, from contaminating my reusable bags. I also make a habit of having the meats packed separately from other groceries. And I always practice care in my kitchen when handling raw meats. But I think I am going to take some additional precautions after reading this.
The information in the link below discusses the dangers of contamination from poultry juices. Researchers found that few shoppers bothered to use available plastic bags intended to carry raw meats. They also found that shoppers rarely used sanitizing products available to prevent the spread of bacteria. By failing to exercise these sanitation options, shoppers were spreading meat juices onto many other surfaces including their shopping cart and other food items (that they handled or when they came into contact with items in their carts). They were even spreading the bacteria onto their children! Just because the meat is in "sealed" packaging doesn't mean they are safe. They can be covered with harmful bacteria.
A very revealing aspect of the study listed the first 3 touches of the consumer after they handled the poultry. The top 3 items were: shopping cart, dry goods, other meats or poultry. Researchers also analyzed how the poultry was handled in the consumers' kitchens and how the items were stored. Results supported theories that transfer of bacteria occurred in those situations too.
At the risk of sounding like a germophobe, I think I will now be changing my shopping habits. I always use the sanitizing shopping cart wipes to clean the handle of my shopping cart. Given the observations of the study and the evidence of cart contamination (on areas besides the handle), it's probably a good idea to wipe down the interior of the cart too! I always bag my meats, but I think I will now use my own hand sanitizer that I carry to clean up my hands if the store does not provide wipes at the meat department.
Read the links below to learn more about the study, their recommendations and safe shopping practices. You might want to change your habits after reading them.