24 October 2018
While transporting food a few times a week, it is inevitable that some reusable bags will have spillages, leaks or damaged packaging on the journey from cash register to pantry.
You might not care if your reusable bags look dirty, but it’s the invisible bacteria that you want to prevent to keep your next load of groceries fresh. Cross contamination can lead to food poisoning, which can vary from uncomfortable to dangerous for those with a suppressed immune system, women who are pregnant, children or the elderly.
Research from a 2011 study by the Loma Linda University School of Public Heath in the USA tested real bags used by shoppers for bacteria and found some e-coli present in 8 per cent of bags they tested. The number of times these bags had been used and for what purpose varied, but the researchers determined that half the bags were used more than one day per week, and that just 3 per cent of people regularly cleaned their bags. Through testing, they found that washing bags reduced bacteria by 99.9 per cent.
Canvas and cotton bags can be washed in the washing machine with a normal load, while string and mesh bags can simply be rinsed and hung to dry. Polypropylene and nylon bags can be hand washed in warm soapy water and line dried or aired out. Wipe down chiller bags with a disinfectant spray or detergent sponge after each use. Turn all bags inside out to wash and check in the seams and corners of bags where stuff can accumulate.
Here are some other healthy bag habits that will reduce contamination in your reusable shopping bags.