Is this you? A joint research report on reusable shopping bags found that:
- 97 percent of shoppers never washed their bags
- 50 percent of the bags contain bacteria
- 12 percent contained dangerous E.coli
- Most bags were cross contaminated (meats, raw produce and pre-cooked food)
What does this mean? Food poisonings have increased after laws required consumers to grocery shop with reusable bags
It doesn’t matter if they are plastic or fabric – you need to wash your bags or be at greater risk for food poisoning and other diseases. Reusable bags should be washed regularly. They can carry pathogens – like yeast, mold or bacteria that can harm you.
Cleaning Tips for Different Shopping Bag Types
Fabric or canvas bags
– put these in your washing machine in hot water with detergent. You can even put them in the dryer for added ease to disinfect.
Nylon or plastic bags
– you can safely wash these by hand in warm water – make sure you scrub any seams on the bag where food could accumulate. Hang them up where they can drip dry.
– These are most likely used for perishables like meats so it’s imperative you clean these each time. Wipe these types of bags down with a disinfecting wipe – especially after each use.
How to Properly Reuse Shopping Bags
- Just like a kitchen towel, shopping bags should be washed after each use carrying food – especially meats and raw produce. Bags that hold cleaning supplies or items you do not consume can be used a few times before washing.
- Label your bags for meat, raw produce, cleaning supplies, etc., and only put those items in those bags.
- Don’t carry gym clothes, diapers, chemicals or any other item in your reusable bags that could cross contaminate your food.
- Soiled bags left in your hot car can cause bacteria to multiply.
- Remove any inserts your bags may have and clean those separately.
- Consider purchasing bags made from hemp – they have natural anti-mold/antimicrobial properties that might help keep you safer.
For more information about preventing foodborne illness or safety, log on to www.askkaren.gov
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