Germ Tracker: Study Reveals High Bacteria Levels on Footwear

New Research Commissioned by Rockport Unveils Benefits of Machine Washable Footwear

Loading media player...

"Life of a Shoe" Video - To further illustrate the prevalence of germs and bacteria on footwear today, Rockport created a video short that follows a pair of feet (or shoes) navigating through an average city day. The video demonstrates how vulnerable shoes are to bacteria and exactly how we track it to other locations, including our homes. Visit the site to enter to win a free Bosch washer and dryer and to upload your own video portraying a day-in-the-life in Rockport shoes. For more information, please visit: www.LIFEOFaSHOE.com.

CANTON, Mass.--()--More than 90 percent of bacteria collected on worn shoes can be eliminated with one wash cycle, according to a study released today by Dr. Charles Gerba, microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, and The Rockport ® Company (www.rockport.com).

The studywhich investigated germs and microbes collected on footwearfound large numbers of bacteria both on the bottom and inside of shoes; averaging 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe and 2,887 on the inside. Some of the bacteria found on the shoes included: Escherichia coli, known to cause intestinal and urinary tract infections, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds.

The goal of the study was to verify bacteria levels on footwear and the effectiveness of machine washable shoes in reducing those levels inside and outside the shoe surface. The project also investigated the role of shoes in the movement of bacteria from contaminated floor spaces to other surfaces.

The common occurrence (96 percent) of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors, said Gerba. Our study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance into your home or personal space after the shoes were contaminated with bacteria.

Simply washing the shoes with detergent was found to eliminate the fecal bacteria and reduce all bacteria by 90 percent or more.

*EDITORS NOTE: To set up an interview with Chuck Gerba, please contact Jilliann Smith listed above.

Rockport Machine Washable Collection

The release of the study coincides with the launch of Rockports new spring Machine Washable Collectionfashion casual footwear for men and women constructed with high-quality, renewable leathers. The materials used in the collection are resistant to water damage which helps prevent color and texture loss when wet. Traditional materials can become stiff and fade after washing. The Machine Washable collection is sold at national retailers, premium independent stores, Rockport store locations and on the web at www.rockport.com.

Footwear Study Methodology

New shoes from the Rockport Machine Washable collection were worn for two weeks by 10 study participants. Following the wear trial period, the bottom and inside of the shoes were sampled for total numbers of bacteria and coliform/E. coli. Scientists washed the footwear in a standard washing machine using conditions suggested by the manufacturer: cold water, 12 minute wash cycle using detergent, air dry for 24 hours. Wash water temperature was 24ºC.

Snapshot: Footwear Study Results

  • Coliforms were detected outside of the shoes on 96% of the shoes. E. coli was detected on 7 of the shoe bottoms (27%). No coliforms were detected on the inside of the shoe.
  • Transfer of bacteria from the shoes to uncontaminated tiles ranged from 90% to 99%.
  • The average number of bacteria on Rockport shoes before washing and after washing is showing a 99% reduction in the numbers of bacteria on the outside of the shoe and a 90% reduction of bacteria on the inside of the shoe after washing.
                -- Specifically there was a 99% reduction of the bacteria coliform on the outside of the shoes after washing.
 

Life of a Shoe Online Video

To further illustrate the prevalence of germs and bacteria on footwear today Rockport launched www.LIFEOFaSHOE.com, a micro site featuring a video short that follows a pair of feet (or shoes) navigating through an average city day. The video demonstrates how vulnerable shoes are to bacteria and exactly how we track it to other locations, including our homes. Visit the site to enter to win a free Bosch washer and dryer and to upload your own video portraying a day-in-the-life in Rockport shoes.

Rockport Machine Washable Lab in Local Markets

To give consumers the opportunity to test the germs and bacteria on their own shoes, Rockport will host mini-Machine Washable Laboratories in select shopping malls and outside participating Macys locations nationwide. The Rockport lab tour will include three cities: Chicago, State Street (5/1); Phoenix, Fashion Square Mall (5/4) and San Francisco, Union Square (5/17). Tava Smiley, former host of TLCs Clean Sweep, will be in each market to talk about how to avoid tracking bacteria into your home.

For more information about The Rockport Company, please visit: www.rockport.com.

About Rockport

The Rockport Company, LLC, a leading brand within the adidas Group corporate portfolio, designs, distributes and markets lifestyle footwear and accessories for men and women worldwide. The Rockport Company, LLC is headquartered in Canton, Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.rockport.com.

About Chuck Gerba

Chuck Gerba is a professor in the Departments of Soil, Water and Environmental Science (College of Agriculture), and Epidemiology and Biostatistics (College of Public Health) at the University of Arizona. He obtained his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Miami, Florida and was a faculty member in the Department of Virology and Epidemiology at Baylor College of Medicine from 1974 to 1981.

Contacts

Maloney & Fox
Jilliann Smith, 646-356-8308
jsmith@maloneyfox.com
or
Dan Griffin, 646-356-8336
dgriffin@maloneyfox.com

Contacts

Maloney & Fox
Jilliann Smith, 646-356-8308
jsmith@maloneyfox.com
or
Dan Griffin, 646-356-8336
dgriffin@maloneyfox.com