The gross side of reusable shopping bags and containers

These days no one disputes the environmental value of transporting your groceries in a reusable shopping bag instead of a plastic bag destined to pollute our waters and land. But did you realize that going along for the ride with your favorite fruits, veggies, and leftovers are high levels of bacteria, yeast, mold, and coliform? A new study from Sporometrics, found a bacteria count of more than 1,800 "colony-forming" units in reusable bags, and 550 in Tupperware containers. Worried about mold? A mold count of 290 was found in the bags compared with a typical mold count of 150 or less per cubic meter in the room air for that time of year. Not grossed-out yet? The study conveys that " The unacceptable presence of coliforms, that is, intestinal bacteria, in some of the bags tested, suggests that forms of E. coli associated with severe disease could be present in small but a significant portion of the bags if sufficient numbers were tested.". Also, it is consistent with everything that is known about Salmonella ecology that it would also be present on rare occasions." Quite simply, if you’re feeling a little funky after eating the salad from your plastic container -- that you transported in your eco-friendly bag -- it might not be the greens that made you sick.

Not to worry, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent contamination:

· WASH YOUR BAG REGULARLY: All bags should be turned inside out and air dried. · PACK MEAT SEPERATELY: Meat should be double packed in a first-use bag to prevent accidental leakage or drips into the reusable bag· REPLACE BAGS: when they cannot be cleaned adequately to avoid the build of harmful bacteria

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