Where are the health considerations regarding a stupid decision?

 ReusablegrocerybagsBy Don W
With Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent signature California became the first state in the nation to ban stores’ distribution of the plastic bags that environmental advocates say have become a major source of ocean pollution. Under the new law, consumers will have to bring reusable cloth or heavy plastic bags with them to stores or pay at least 10 cents each for bags made from recycled paper content

Reusable grocery bags can harbor dangerous bacteria that are a hazard to grocery checkout handlers and other customers.

Recent studies have found that reusable bags can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria such as Coliform and E. coli, as well as noroviruses. These germs can live for extended periods of time on the inside of reusable bags. When your food is placed in those bags, it comes into contact with the bacteria and can make you ill.

Bacteria can develop inside reusable grocery bags for a variety of reasons. If meat is not sealed properly, small leaks can occur. The meaty juices can then leak out into the bag and contaminate other foods. After the foods have been emptied, the juices remain in the bag, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to develop.

It is not just meats that can contaminate these bags. Many individuals who are extremely careful about properly caring for meat often overlook the other potential hazards in the foods that they purchase. For example, residue from dirty cans, boxes, packages and bottles can all collect at the bottom and along the sides of reusable bags. Residue from fruits and vegetables can be equally hazardous.

Many people store their reusable grocery bags in their cars so they will always have them handy and available when they visit the grocery store. The problem with this is that all of that residue and contamination from meat juices is left inside the bag, festering in the heat of the car, sometimes for several days.

Some reusable grocery bags, such as those made form polyester, require more energy to create than would be needed to make a few hundred disposable plastic grocery bags. Your groceries will be exposed to many toxins when transported in these bags. Plastic bags have been known to leech these harmful chemicals into the food that is stored inside the bags.

There are some very simple steps that can be taken to eliminate bacteria and make reusable grocery bags much safer. Few users will take the time to apply those simple steps that can be taken to eliminate bacteria and will bring their toxin and bacteria infested bags to your shopping location. The checker touching your food will be contaminated by handling reusable grocery bags.

There needs to be a law in place to require grocery checkout handlers to sanitize their hands and any other areas that may have come in contact with potentially contaminated reusable grocery bags. Perhaps a fee should be charged for the additional service required to accommodate the handling of reusable grocery bags.  

Don W. (Don Whatzizname) has been a resident of Ventura County for 30 years. Prior to that he lived in the Los Angeles metro area except for a four year stint as a US Air Force instructor at an officer training school. Prior to retirement, he was employed as a telecommunication technologist with a 5 year stint as an LA market radio announcer on the only 30’s and 40’s music station at the time.


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Anthony van Leeuwen

Don is correct in that there are hazards with using reusable bags. These hazards not only include bacteria and virus transmission, but ergonomic hazards as well. Bag Banner like to say that Reusable hold more. Well if they hold more they also weigh more. A filled plastic bag will weigh about 10 lbs. but a filled reusable bag could weigh as much as 33 lbs. Think about the elderly who have to carry such heavy bags, or the handicapped, or those who have back problems.

Check out the following articles at http://fighttheplasticbagban.com:

Bacterial and Viral Health Hazards of Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable Bags and Ergonomic Issues