More lurking kitchen danger: reusable bags could be contaminated with bacteria
If you’re into being green and toted your Fruit Loops, Corn Pops, Honey Smacks and Apple Jacks home in one of those fancy reusable grocery bags, you might want to check those, too.
A University of Arizona study indicates that many consumers may have reusable grocery totes that are harboring dangerous bacteria- especially if, say, you used them to carry tasty, juice-leaking meat packages home from your local Save A Bunch:
The researchers tested 84 bags collected from shoppers in Tucson, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area and found that just over half were contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria. Twelve percent of the bags contained E. coli, which indicates possible fecal matter and more dangerous pathogens.
“A lot of people are not aware of the potential for the cross-contamination of food,” said Charles Gerba, a UA professor and co-author of the study.
Gerba says bags should be washed after each use (which sounds like a major hassle) and that the tendency to store the totes in hot car trunks can exacerbate the problem. Not everyone accepts the study’s findings, though, and one scientist interviewed said the results of the study might be suspect:
An environmental-advocacy group objects to its validity because it was funded by the American Chemistry Council, which represents plastics manufacturers.
“This is industry-funded junk science designed to scare consumers,” said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the National Resources Defense Council.
He said it’s irresponsible to claim that reusable bags present a serious threat to public health because bacteria are everywhere. He said he has used reusable grocery bags for years, and he doesn’t wash them after each use.
Any chance you’re going to launder the bags you use after going through all the trouble of getting to the store and actually unpacking the groceries? Is this a public health disaster just waiting to happen?