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Loyalty Cards Helped Prevent Illnesses

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Different loyalty cards. Image: Mattes
Different loyalty cards. Image: Mattes

Lots of stores have a “loyalty card.” It’s a plastic card (like a credit card) that the customer swipes in a machine after making his purchases.

For instance, after buying groceries, the check-out person may ask if you have a card for their grocery story. If you do, he will swipe it in a machine. The card keeps track of what you bought, and gives you “points” which you can collect.

When you have enough points, the store may give you something free or give you money back on your next purchase.

Customers like loyalty cards because it helps them get free stuff and discounts.

Stores like loyalty cards because it lets them keep track of what people bought, so they can target their advertising to them in the future.

A new report shows that loyalty cards have another purpose as well.

In British Columbia, grocery store loyalty cards helped to stop the outbreak of an illness called Hepatitis A.

When people started getting sick in BC in early 2012, researchers wanted to know what was causing it. But it can be very difficult to figure out what the cause of an illness is because they have to find something in common about all of the people involved.

In this case, researchers used the loyalty cards to figure out what food all of the people who were sick had bought recently.

They discovered that they had all bought a certain brand of frozen fruit that contained pomegranate seeds. Normally pomegranate seeds are fine, but in this case they had become infected with Hepatitis A and anyone who ate them became sick.

The researchers were able to pull the rest of the frozen fruit bags from the shelves so no one else became ill.

The story of the interesting use of loyalty cards was published in an online health journal called Eurosurveillance; one of the authors of the study is Dr. Helena Swinkels, of Fraser Health Authority.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
This article tells the story of a unique way that a loyalty card could help people and prevent illness. Can you think of any other way that loyalty cards could help the people who use them?

Reading Prompt: Comprehension Strategies
When we read, we are constantly using strategies to help us understand a text. Actually, we also use these strategies before and after we read as well.

When you read the title of this article (before you began reading it), which strategies did you use in order to help you think about what the article would be about?

What strategies did you use while you were reading the article?

What strategies did you use after you finished reading the article?

Junior
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Intermediate
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Language Feature: Quotation Marks
Often quotation marks are used to reference what a person said. Sometimes quotation marks are written around key words to draw a reader’s attention to the words.

Which words in this article are surrounded by quotation marks? Why do you think the journalist chose to write these words with quotation marks? How do these quotation marks change how you read the article?