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Can Your Trash Cans Make You Sick?

June 13, 2017



Americans waste an unfathomable amount of food. In fact, according to a Guardian report released this week, roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away—some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually, an amount constituting “one third of all foodstuffs.” With all that food waste, the common American trash can is overloaded and contaminated. What’s more worrisome is that many Americans neglect to wash their hands after taking touching their trash cans. These trash cans are left to sit in the hot sun, exposed to the elements, insects and wild animals. After just a couple days of this, harmful bacteria sets in and begins to grow. The homeowner goes out, throws away the trash and leftovers from the evening meal and that bacteria transfers onto their hands where it can be delivered anywhere on their body and that of their spouse or children. This is how people become sick and this is how disease is spread.



240,000 cases per year


Food may become contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler. A frequent cause is a food handler who does not wash his or her hands with soap after using the bathroom. Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea. You can become infected if you do not wash your hands after contact with these feces. Salmonella poisoning can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches and fever.



Common Cold Virus

3 million cases per year

Germs that cause the common cold virus can also find their way into trashcans via discarded napkins and tissues. One of the main culprits for causing colds are rhinoviruses; viral agents that proliferate in the noses of humans. As the cold virus is airborne, discarded tissues and napkins can contain the virus.


E. Coli

80,000 cases per year

Escherichia coli is a bacteria that is found in uncooked beef, unpasteurized milk and in cucumbers. Therefore, any discarded products that are known to contain the bacteria can possibly contaminate trashcans. E. coli infection symptoms include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and tiredness.



1,600 cases (260 deaths)

Listeria monocytogenes are germs that can be found in raw milk, meat, poultry and some vegetables and, unlike many other bacteria groups, they can flourish at low temperatures, which means they can be found in your refrigerator and then end up in your trashcan.


This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more different types of bacteria and germs lurking within your cans, more than any other area in your home. Having a professional can cleaning company clean and sanitize your cans on a scheduled basis helps to combat disease and raise the American health standard.


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