Reusable Grocery Bags Are Green, But Also Pose Dangers

Reported by: Lauren Gawthrop
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Updated: 7/30/2012 9:44 am
You may be packing more than sale items in your reusable grocery bags. These convenient carrying cases can become contaminated, if you're not careful.

Meats are common contamination culprits.

We've all gone to the store and picked up that leaky package of meat or chicken. Well, when that leak happens in your reusable grocery bag, that bacteria sticks to that bag, and everything that's put in it.
 
University of Arizona researchers recently found reusable shopping bags can harbor multiple bacteria, including E-coli.

Cross-contamination can occur when meat, produce, and pre-cooked foods are placed in the same bag.

Your best defense is to wash your bags after each trip to the store, but 97 percent of shoppers admit they have never washed their reusable bags. And grocery bags should only be used for groceries.

"It's really important not to use grocery bags for other purposes. they should be designated grocery bags, and as a matter of fact, some people even recommend you label one for meats, one for produce, that type of thing, so you don't get into cross-contamination between your own bags," said Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Susan Rehm.

Dr. Rehm also suggests storing your bags some place other than the trunk of your car. She says the summertime heat provides a good environment for bacteria to multiply.
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