Do you regularly wash your reusable grocery bags?
Don't be ashamed if you answered no. You are not alone. In a 2011 study, 97% of people interviewed admitted they NEVER wash their reusable bags.1
If you are like me, reusable bags not only hold groceries, but go to the beach, to school, to the soccer field, to work ....
It is a no brainer that these bags get dirty. When we add food to the mix, there is a real possibility that contamination can potentially cause food-borne illnesses.2
So are reusable bags a health hazard? Should we give up trying to save the environment and go back to using plastic?
No. Would you consider wearing single-use jeans because they get dirty and could also become a potential health hazard? I would have to throw away all my son's clothes, if that were the case.
The simple solution to avoiding the germs and saving the environment is washing.
Treat reusable bags like clothing and wash them regularly. A single wash by hand or by machine, even in cold water and with no bleach, reduces the bacteria contamination by 99.9%.1
Will you start washing your reusable bags? Do you have any tips if you already do?
1. Williams, D. L., Gerba, C. P., Maxwell, S., & Sinclair, R. G. (2011). Assessment of the potential for cross-contamination of food products by reusable shopping bags. Food Protection Trends, 31(8), 508-513.
2. Repp, K.K. and Keene, W. E. (May 9, 2012). A pointsource norovirus outbreak caused by exposure to fomites. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 1–3. http:// www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/jid/prpaper.