Reminder: Your Reusable Carry All Needs to be Washed Too!

Articles
June 07, 2010

Reminder: Your Reusable Carry All Needs to be Washed Too!

Several cities and stores around the globe have started charging for plastic shopping bags at the grocery store, and now the entire state of California has banned retailers from handing out free single use plastic bags; instead they will be available for purchase at a nickel a pop.

Several cities and stores around the globe have started charging for plastic shopping bags at the grocery store, and now the entire state of California has banned retailers from handing out free single use plastic bags; instead they will be available for purchase at a nickel a pop. Supermarket Guru applauds this bill, and supports the use of reusable shopping totes, but wants to remind shoppers of a few important things...

As more and more of us ditch our plastic grocery bag collection for reusable, environmentally friendly and less space intrusive totes, a study sponsored by the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC) reported some not so friendly finds. “The moist, dark, warm interior [of reusable totes]… that have acquired… water and trace food contamination... [are] an ideal incubator for bacteria.” The study also concluded that coliforms, intestinal E.coli causing bacteria, were found in several reusable bags, and thus raises similar (but more rare) Salmonella concerns. This should not come as a surprise; as we are incessantly reminded about kitchen food safety when dealing with raw meat and poultry, as well as the importance of thoroughly washing our fruits and veggies. 

The combination of crumbs, condensation from cold or frozen foods, and possible leaks from raw meat, poultry or fish is not uncommon in our grocery bags. And with reusable totes, this foodstuff should not be ignored! We must extend our food safety practices to include grocery totes, and make sure that they are regularly cleaned and aired out to dry. It is also important to replace (or machine wash if possible) reusable totes when they look as if they have passed their expiration date.

Some say this study is a lame attempt by the plastics industry to deter us from going green, and the results by no means indicate a reason to revert to wasteful plastic, but the industry, “does not want to see these initiatives inadvertently compromise public health and safety.” 
Some things to remember:

  • Take care of your tote bag and give it a good wipe down once a week or sooner if you notice visible spills or leaking food
  • Machine wash totes regularly- especially if they are multi purpose
  • Avoid leaky meat packages.

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Quotes were taken from the EPIC study and full study details can be accessed on www.newswire.ca