Toronto supermarket is now sanitizing groceries with Xgerminator UV light machine

Machines that sanitize groceries with UV light are now being manufactured and used right here in Ontario.

Once upon a time, taking home your groceries and washing produce, cans of beer and more in the sink with soap and water would have gotten you called an obsessive germaphobe. Now, it's commonplace.

Cue the Xgerminator, a machine that sanitizes groceries at checkout with UV light in less than 30 seconds. It's a collaboration between local company Prescientx and two local businesswomen, and is intended to eliminate the labour-intensive, time-consuming process of sanitizing groceries.

"The XGERMINATOR emits a wavelength of UV-C light at a dosage that inactivates SARS-CoV-2 on a cellular level. When our machine's light penetrates a cell of the virus, it damages that cell's genetic material and prevents it from reproducing," reads the Xgerminator official website.

"COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2. The XGERMINATOR inactivates similar coronaviruses and it is expected to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 when used in accordance with the directions for use against SARS or MERS on hard, non-porous surfaces."

Sanitization is intended to take place at the final point of contact, the cashier scanning items and placing them on a conveyor belt, where they then go through an enclosed UV-C tunnel. From there, bag your own groceries using provided gloves or sanitizer, or have a trained employee wearing new gloves and an N95 mask bag them for you.

According to Xgerminator's website, "UV-C (as opposed to the sunburn-causing UV-A or UV-B) is a type of ultraviolet light with a shorter wavelength that damages the molecular structure of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens." UV-C light is commonly used for sanitization in hospitals and labs.

The process is totally food safe. In fact, it's even better than liquid sanitizers because it's free of chemicals and residues, and may even extend the shelf life of produce. However, it's not safe to use on your skin or body, and you can't sanitize personal items with it, so don't go trying to sneak your hands or phone in there.

The two businesswomen who reached out to Prescientx are Alyssa Mincer, Real Estate Agent, and Dara Gallinger, co-founder and former CEO of Brodflour as well as Director of Marketing & Merchandising at Sobeys Inc.

"The grocery retail environment is very finicky, you have to consider the entire customer journey when you bring a new service into a store," says Gallinger.

The Xgerminator is currently getting a trial run at one checkout aisle of Summerhill Market in the Annex from May 20 to June 1.

"We launched it this morning at the opening and the feedback has been quite incredible," says Brad McMullen, owner of Summerhill Market. "It's amazing to see our customers get educated from the Xgerminator staff on hand about sanitizing their groceries. Everyone has been excited to try it. It has been working flawlessly so far."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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