Safety of Reusable Food Bags Called into Question

May 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm 1 comment

The headline states: reusable food shopping bags and packages can contain a high level of bacteria, yeast, mold and coliform counts which pose a significant food safety risk. cleangreenbag

However, consider the source–the Environment and Plastic Industry Council (EPIC).

While food safety is a valid concern, EPIC is promoting results of a study it initiated, suggesting high bacterial counts are commonly found on the interior surfaces of reusable grocery bags.  Yet, the results are countered by  Heather Marshall, spokesperson for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, who confirmed that neither E. coli nor salmonella, two of the most dangerous food-borne bacteria, were found in any of the bags.

Alas, this promotional effort is an attempt to give consumers a reason to stay with or go back to using plastic bags to bring home groceries.

Just the same, some good can come from this campaign by reminding shoppers to employ an ounce of prevention. To err on the side of caution, continue shopping with reusable bags, and when you get home, apply these tips to reduce any chance of potential bacterial growth:

  • Place raw meat in a separate bag (that should be rinsed with soap and water and hung inside out to dry)
  • Turn bags inside out to air out between trips
  • Separate meats and produce into different bags.
  • Wash inside with soap and water whenever any food or dirt becomes evident.

Food safety is an important issue and deserves attention. Let’s use this opportunity as a constructive reminder to avoid cross contamination of foods, but not to be alarmed by exaggerated claims.  Stick with your ecological efforts to reduce your reliance on plastic, while keeping your food safe


Entry filed under: Eco-sensitive Food Shopping, Food Safety, Nutrition News. Tags: , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Kristen  |  February 24, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I wash these reusable bags in the washing machine on gentle once a week. I use cold water so they won’t be destroyed, but I use oxyclean and vinegar and soap during the cycle.

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