Now that Edmonds has prohibited single-use plastic bags in retail establishments, a My Edmonds News reader has alerted us to the importance of washing your reusable shopping bags.
According to Food Safety News, a joint food safety research report issued by researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University said that unwashed reusable grocery bags “can serve as a breeding ground for dangerous foodborne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health.”
The researchers randomly tested reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tucson. Researchers also found consumers were almost completely unaware of the need to regularly wash their bags. “Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half the bags sampled,” said Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of Arizona environmental microbiology professor and co-author of the study. “Furthermore, consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags after every use.”
The report also recommends that consumers not store their bags in the trunk of their car, “because the higher temperature promotes growth of bacteria.”