Your Reusable Grocery Bags? They've Got Cooties

A study finds a lot of e.coli in eco-conscious sacks.

Your Reusable Grocery Bags? They’ve Got Cooties

A study finds a lot of e.coli in eco-conscious sacks.

-Jane Farrell

Woman grocery shopping

Reusable shopping bags are probably better for the planet than they are for you.

At least, that’s what one study has found.

Random tests by University of Arizona researchers in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco found that bacteria, including the sometimes deadly e.coli, were found in half the bags they tested, according to the university. New bags were also tested, but no bacteria was found.

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Says professor Charles Gerba, co-author of the study, “Consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags on a weekly basis.” The study found that carrying uncooked foods (like meats) and food to be eaten raw (fruits and vegetables) in the same bag made “cross-contamination” more likely. (Raw meat is often contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter , but cooking usually removes them.)

But don’t go back to disposable plastic bags and contribute to the huge environmental problem they cause! You can battle the green-bag cooties: Gerba and his colleagues suggest washing polypropylene bags (that’s not possible with more fragile bags) every week by putting them in a five gallon bucket with a household detergent and letting them dry overnight. And if that sounds like a lot of trouble, the alternative is so much worse!

The scientists also recommended that manufacturers of reusable bags have a warning printed on the bags about possible contamination, and recommending separation of raw foods from meats as well as the importance of washing the bags.

Sounds good to us. (Futurity)

Jane Farrell is a senior editor for BettyConfidential.

Photo Credit: Jupiterimages

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