Bad News for Reusable Shopping Bags

For a couple of years now, we have been pushed to say goodbye to both plastic and paper bags at the store.  Instead, it has been suggested we use reusable bags.  This means less waste and less plastic in landfills.

But now, there is bad news for reusable shopping bag fans and it may have everyone rethinking the whole bag thing again.

One thing that appears to be important with the reusable bags that wasn’t with paper or plastic bags is washing.  Yes, your reusable bag may be a haven for germs which can make your family sick.

In fact, it is believed that it was reusable bags that cause an outbreak of the norovirus among young women on a Washington soccer team, their parents, and other family members.  They were all struck with the virus telltale signs of diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.  Officials looking into the case found that the virus was spread by one girl to seven other team members through a reusable grocery bag and its contents.

In addition to the norovirus, studies have shown that these highly touted reusable bags are great hosts for other bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and fecal coliform.  More stats you may not want to hear – some researchers found that the  bacteria in some reusable bags may be more than 300 percent higher than what public health officials consider to be  a safe level.  And, if you store your bags in the trunk for a couple of hours – well, the bacteria can increase ten-fold.

How can you prevent the bacteria from building up in the reusable bags?  One simple way – wash them.  Yes, it may not be anything that has ever crossed your mind, but you should wash your bags, especially if you’ve been carrying something that can leak, like meats.  One researcher said you should consider bags like anything else that comes in contact with food, such as cutting boards.  You wouldn’t think of using your cutting board, then just putting it back up in the shelf without washing it and you should do the same for your reusable bags to keep your family safe.

This entry was posted in Green News and tagged , , by Libby Pelham. Bookmark the permalink.
Libby Pelham

About Libby Pelham

I have always loved to write and gives me the opportunity to share my passion for writing with others. I work full-time as a web developer at UTHSC and most of my other time is spent with my son (born 2004). I love everything pop culture, but also enjoy writing about green living (it has opened my eyes to many things!) and health (got to worry about that as you get older!).