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Reusable Shopping Bags Could Pose Health Risks
2010-7-29 『close

Grocery shopping with the Boyers requires at least one reusable bag per trip.

"It's easier to carry things, you can carry more, the handles make it easier than plastic," said Karen Boyer.

The environment and convenience may be key reasons to carry a reusable bag, but health officials say be careful you're not bagging more than just food.

"The bacteria that is on either the vegetables, the produce, or particularly if you're having meat; the E. coli, the salmonella, the bacteria can leak from the meat into your reusable bag," said  Sandy Ellington, Community Health Educator for the Guilford County Department of Public Health. 

That's something the Boyers are well aware of; which is why Karen says she washes her bags every other week.

"It doesn't take much. Throw it in when you do a load of laundry."

Steve Hall, president of Lowe's Foods advises consumers: "We highly recommend washing reusable cloth shopping bags at least once a month and anytime a food product leaks onto the material. Each time you shop you should inspect your bags for leaks and stains and wash immediately if you find evidence. For bags lined with plastic material, wiping them down with a bleach based solution or some other disinfectant is recommended on a regular basis or after a spill."

The Guilford County Department of Health also recommends keeping one bag only for meats and another, only for produce.

The Boyers have learned some tricks of their own.

"It is important to clean the bag, not only the bag, but the support base at the bottom needs to be cleaned also," said Jay Boyer. 

The health department says they haven't gotten any complaints as of yet, but it could be something they hear more about.