Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman, from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law in New Jersey. After I got past my initial response of “yuck” with not thinking about the hazards of using reusable bags, I realized that it’s a good idea for many reasons to wash reusable grocery bags occasionally. And if they can’t be washed, to think seriously about whether they should be reused or not. This is an especially timely issue because unfortunately the recent outbreak of cyclospora was traced to contaminated prepackaged salad mix in grocery stores from Iowa and Nebraska. It’s a parasite that’s sickened over 370 people, 78 in Nebraskans and folks in Iowa, Texas, and elsewhere in a total of 13 states, although it’s not known if all the incidents are related to the salad mix according to this article. So even though the culprit of local contamination has been found, it’s still a good idea to figure out a way to keep your reusable bags clean, because after all, they’re transporting food for you and your loved ones.
Most people have been driven by guilt or cost into thinking about using a reusable shopping bag from the grocery store. A recent report indicates that sometimes the bags, because they are not sanitized by regular cleaning, become killer bacteria farms that may be transported into the workplace in a casual fashion.
Brought home from the grocery store, reusable and contaminated shopping bags then become storage and transport containers left baking in the car and carried everywhere for convenience from gyms, to libraries, and then into the workplace for lunch.
A recent report reflects that the reusable grocery bags often become contaminated by bacteria, since they are not cleaned properly nor regularly, and that deadly bacteria colonize in the bags resulting human illness and increased emergency room visits.
“Recent studies, however, suggest that reusable grocery bags harbor harmful bacteria, the most important of which is E. coli. If individuals fail to clean their reusable bags, these bacteria may lead to contamination of the food transported in the bags. Such contamination has the potential to lead to health problems and even death.”