This summer I decided to purchase several reusable shopping bags. The bags are available everywhere, but I really did not like the small mesh bags most places were selling. I finally found bags at our local Farmers Market that were made of vinyl and were twice as big as most bags. I liked them because I felt they would be easy to wipe down and wash if necessary. They also hold a lot more so I needed fewer of them.
Recently an article came to my attention about possible bacteria problems with the reusable shopping bags. Researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University found that 97 percent of people who use “green” bags rarely wash them. The result – large amounts of bacteria such as E. coli and coliform bacteria (raw or uncooked meat contamination). Store these bags in the trunk, as I do? The bacteria multiply even more. Use the bags for groceries then use the same bags to carry clothes, toys, etc? I’ve been guilty of that, but no more, this causes more bacteria to transfer to food and vice versa.
I thought wiping down the bags would suffice, but after reading the article, I am sure I will be washing the bags regularly. Bacteria-laden bags could be one factor adding to the 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses every year in the United States, according to the study. I plan to wash them using hot water, which will effectively kill 99.9 percent of bacteria present. I still like the idea of going “green” about my shopping bags, but now I will also be smart about keeping bacteria at bay.