If you’ve spent any time on the internet recently, you might have seen that viral warning from the Leachville Police Department in Arkansas. Though it has since been deleted from the department’s Facebook page, it had many families with small children shivering in fear at the danger of their local grocery store.
According to the department, parents and shoppers of all ages should meticulously sanitize their shopping carts before roaming a store’s aisles — or else risk overdosing on deadly drugs.
The drug of particular concern was fentanyl, an opioid pain medication that gives users a short, intense high. It wouldn’t take much of this concentrated substance to threaten the life of a small child — spurring severe concern from the local PD. The idea behind the warning was that drug users in the community might inadvertently leave drugs on cart handles “if they have fentanyl or something like that still on their hands.”
“All you’d have to do is rub your nose or touch your child’s mouth,” the post warned. “Children just being exposed to the powder or residue is a bad situation that can turn deadly.”
Deputy Administrator Jack Riley explained in a three-page document attached to the post: “Fentanyl can kill you. It is 40 to 50 times stronger than street-level heroin. A very small amount ingested, or absorbed through your skin, can kill you.”
Understandably, citizens were concerned. Shoppers were frantically wiping their carts down with the wipes provided at store entrances and fretting over the potential of overdose every time they entered the store.
But while sanitizing your cart is probably a good idea, the concern about drug poisoning was more than a little misplaced.
“It’s just like comparing the HIV epidemic in the ‘80s when people claimed you could get AIDS from sitting on the toilet,” Sabora said.
Other experts have since come forward, refuting the police department’s claim that simple skin exposure to the opiate could cause significant damage.
The Leachville Police Department has since withdrawn the fearmongering document. They’ve now posted an apology to their Facebook page, which reads:
“The post about the fentanyl was sent so me from another officer at another Department. I simply shared it. I’m should have checked into it further before I posted it. Sorry for the confusion.”
While we’re glad opioids aren’t threatening to kill you via your shopping cart, we do still recommend wiping down the handle. There’s no denying that the handle of your cart is one of the grossest germy places in the supermarket.