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Hy-Vee unveils cart sanitizing system in response to coronavirus, first grocery chain to use technology

Sterile care sanitizes 1 to 2 carts per second, and uses a hospital-grade disinfectant

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Midwestern grocery chain Hy-Vee announced Tuesday it will be the first to introduce an automated cleaning system to sanitize shopping carts.

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The Iowa-based chain said the Sterile Cart system fully cleans and sanitizes shopping carts after each use.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been our desire to put Hy-Vee customers’ minds at ease with thorough sanitization measures," Hy-Vee CEO and president Randy Edeker said in a statement.

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Hy-Vee said that it expects to roll out the automated cleaning system to more than 200 stores across its eight-state region by mid-November.

The innovative system cleans several carts "quickly and consistently," which eliminates the need for store employees to have to go through and manually clean each cart throughout the day.

The fully automated system that Hy-Vee is rolling out at its grocery stores will clean and sanitize carts after each use. (Hy-Vee)

Sterile Cart is manufactured by Minnesota-based IZZA Manufacturing and distributed by Ultra Green Packaging.

It uses a low-pressure spray system and a dry-in-place disinfectant. With a small footprint, 6 by 4 feet, it can easily be installed where shopping carts are returned and staged for customer use.

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Kristin Davidson of Ultra Green said the system was conceived and designed specifically to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“The Sterile Cart system uses a hospital-grade disinfectant that is proven to kill 99.9% of germs and viruses that cause illnesses, including coronavirus,” Davidson said in a statement. “The system ships fully assembled, takes up minimal space, and sanitizes 1-2 carts per second."

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Hy-Vee said that the system cleans and sanitizes the entire cart and not just the handles and high-touch areas.

"We are always looking at innovative ways to improve store operations, improve the shopping experience for customers and, most importantly, ensure the health and safety of our customers and our employees," Edeker said.

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