Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shopping Bags and Bacteria

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I came across this Los Angeles Times article about bacteria in reusable shopping bags. In a recent study, researchers found that most shoppers never wash their reusable bags and as a result all sorts of bad bugs appear in those bags. (It is only fair to mention here that the study was funded by the American Chemistry Council, which promotes plastic and plastic bags and is fighting the CA bill to ban plastic bags).

I know some personal chefs are concerned about this issue and do not use reusable bags for this very reason.

The LA Times article recommends washing reusable bags frequently. I'm not sure that the average 99 cent shopping bag can survive many washings and then they wind up in a landfill.

Although they cost more, I love my market bags. These string bags are machine washable, hold up to 40 pounds each and take up next to no room when storing. In addition, they wear very well: I have used mine 3-5 times per week for nearly 3 years. I wash them at least twice a week and they still look like new.

Of course, it is good to use some common sense. I always ask the bagger to place meats in a plastic bag. Most groceries have hand wipes available; I use these AFTER shopping, as well as before. And the first thing I do when I'm back from the grocery is to wash my hands with soap and water. Of course, I wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly and also the tops of canned goods before I open them.

Perhaps most importantly, we should remember that there is bacteria everywhere and we don't need to panic about it. It makes me happy to think about all the plastic bags I have NOT used over the years because I have these wonderful bags. And, because these bags last so long, I don't have to continue to buy new market bags and toss the old ones in the landfills.

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