Due to environmental concerns and government legislation grocery stores charge 5 cents for plastic bags. Unfortunately, it appears the the drive for shoppers to switch to reusable bags comes with health risks.
Two labs conducted studies collecting reusable bags from people at grocery stores. They exchanged new reusable bags to replace the shoppers’ existing bags. They collected information about the bag’s age, if and how often it was washed and how frequently it was used. Several new bags were included as controls in the study.
The researchers discovered that of the used reusable bags, thirty percent had unsafe levels of bacteria. This bacteria included faecal bacteria. Forty percent of the bags had mold or yeast embedded in them. Disposable plastic bags on the other hand had no mold, yeast or bacterial contamination.
It seems the warm, dark interior of reusable bags, especially when folded for storage, is a perfect incubator for these contaminants. The grocery contents provided just enough food residue and moisture to feed bacteria and mold. The findings were confirmed and assessed by another independent third lab.
While it is certainly environmentally responsible to use reusable bags, please make sure the environment inside the bags is under control. Keep them clean!