Recently local health officials started asking people to not use their reusable grocery bags in stores. Now you might think why? Not everyone is even wearing a mask in the stores and you’re concerned about my reusable bag?! How does that make sense. But it does.
Reusable bags are filled with germs. If I cough into my hands, then touch a surface my germs are now on that surface. Then you come behind me and put your reusable bags on that same surface and now my germs are on your bag. Three days later you go to another store and the same thing happens. Now not only have you collected more germs on your bags, but you’ve spread my germs into a new store by your reusable grocery bag touching that surface. This is why local health officials are starting to crack down on people bringing their reusable grocery bags into stores. It’s not to be rude it’s not to make you purchase a bag (if that store doesn’t provide bags). Simply it’s to stop spreading more germs.
For those who do wash their bags after every use this can be stressful. I know I prefer to reuse bags because I hate having all that plastic in my house because it just goes in the trash. But for those who don’t wash their bags there is some very interesting research done on what germs they really do pick up. Reusable bags that are not washed/sanitized after each use have been shown to harbor dangerous viruses and bacteria. Microbiologists have found E. coli, salmonella, fecal coliform, and other harmful bacteria in reusable bags. Now you might think salmonella? How can this be! But really it’s not hard. Even if you wrap your meats in plastic that doesn’t mean their juices didn’t spread onto your hands or to the inside of your bag after being checked out.
The University of Arizona found 51% of all reusable bags contained coliform bacteria, and 12% contained E. coli, indicating the presence of fecal matter and other pathogens on their bags. This same study also found that 97% of individuals never wash their reusable bags. After working a few weeks at a grocery store and talking to customers I can attest that most of them said they never even thought about washing their bags. More research studies done proved that harmful bacteria thrives in reusable bags unless cleaned properly after each use. To clean properly use soapy water that is atleast 140 degrees.
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A Canadian study found bacteria build-up on reusable bags was 300% higher than what is considered safe. And more research conducted saw that reusable grocery bags stored in a hot trunk cause the bacteria to grow 10 times faster. Lastly, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found COVID-19 can live up to three days on polypropylene. This is the material that most reusable bags are made of.
If you haven’t already, wash your bags! And then think about storing them for the time being. But if you must use them, please please please wash them after each use. Your health and safety matters.