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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Return to "Paper or Plastic" ??

Everybody has been on the bandwagon to use GREEN bags...recycle...the NEW thing! 
Then on tonight's local news...they reported THIS:

Just when you’re feeling good about remembering to bring back your reusable bags for groceries comes word from a study out West that bacteria levels can build up if bags aren’t washed. The University of Arizona at Tucson and Loma Linda University in California did a joint food safety study randomly testing 84 reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in the Los Angeles area, San Francisco, and Tucson. They found significant levels of harmful bacteria, and very low awareness of potential risk.
Geographic location appeared to affect the results, with contamination rates higher in L.A. than in the other two locations, with speculation that this is likely due to that region’s weather being “more conducive to growth of bacteria in reusable bags.”  The author, Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor of soil, water and environmental science, reported that 97% of those interviewed have never washed (or bleached) their reusable bags. Gerba points out that thorough washing kills nearly all bacteria that accumulate. 
Wegmans reusable bags are labeled with directions to hand wash with cool water. Our merchant Debbie Hauck points out that the bags will float in a washing machine, since the polypropylene does not absorb water. They are sturdy and flexible enough to machine wash if you make sure they are submerged. The colorful woven ones are a bit stiffer and do not machine wash well, but are easily hand washed. Never put in the dryer…they will melt!
Other tips: Ask the cashier to separate raw foods from other food products. Don’t leave meat or produce in hot cars because higher temperatures promote growth of bacteria. And, finally, don’t use the same bags for groceries as for gym clothes!
Kind of makes me want to go back to the "Paper or Plastic" days...


Katya said...

Argh!!! And they wonder *why* consumers are so confused???

Thanks for posting this, Jeanne!

Nikki said...

I use plastic bags for meat...but everything else goes in the enviro bags. I've never thought to wash them... eek... Might go get them out of the car and give them a wash.
Hope you have a good weekend,
Nikki x

Anonymous said...

Oh boy - I have a ton of canvas bags. I tell them to bag my meat in plastic though. Will run them through wash. Thanks for the post!