The ecological shopping bag at the supermarket is a great idea but you have to wash it every now and then

The ecological shopping bag at the supermarket is a great idea but you have to wash it every now and then

Blogger Albert Amgar, French food safety expert and collaborator of draws attention to reusable shopping bags: plastic, cloth or mesh bags that should replace plastic bags, which are non-biodegradable and harmful to the environment.

Eco-friendly bags are highly recommended, but they can become a receptacle for bacteria and potential “chambers” of cross-contamination for newly purchased foods. As early as 2009, a study by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association found that three out of five reusable bags had a high bacterial load and two out of five were rich in yeast and / or mold.

Now a new joint study from the Universities of Arizona in Tucson and Loma Linda University in Linda, California, has examined the risk of cross-contamination of foods that are carried in grocery bags.

The research analyzed 84 bags (in synthetic material) of citizens residing in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco, who had never been touched by the doubt that even the bags used to transport food should be washed, as is done with dish towels, sponges. and the rags used in the kitchen.

“While the new bags have no bacterial load, half of the reusable bags were found to be contaminated with fecal colibacteria and other bacteria,” said Charles Gerba, professor of environmental sciences and co-author of the study. “The bacteria were present in sufficient quantities to create health problems, particularly for children who were thought to be most vulnerable to poisoning. 97% of the interviewees had never washed their bags, while a weekly wash, by hand or in the washing machine, would be enough to eliminate any risk ». 

The use of recyclable bags is highly encouraged in California, where plastic bags are to be banned altogether. Without wishing to minimize the importance of an initiative to protect the environment, the researchers stress the need to conduct information campaigns to reduce the risk of contamination caused by dirty bags. The biggest problems were encountered as expected in stock exchanges from hotter cities like Los Angeles. 

In addition to frequent washing, the researchers suggest a) the utmost attention in the transport of raw foods (meats, vegetables) which should be well separated from each other and also from other foods, b) not to use food bags to carry clothes , books or other objects, c) not to leave fresh products for a long time – meat, vegetables and fruit in particular – in the trunk of the car where the high temperature favors the growth of bacteria and contamination of bags.

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