You’re doing your bit for the environment by loading up your groceries in a re-usable grocery bag. Everytime you hit the store, you fish it out and fill it up. Big question, do you ever wash it out, when you’re done ?
A survey performed by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest most people don’t bother.
A bagful of germs
It seems somewhat ironic, that in our germphobic modern world, that approx 80 % of people fail to hose down their grocery sack. But in the survey, carried out as part of the Home Food Safety programme – 1 in 6 Americans sampled, just kept re-cycling their eco-friendly recyclable bag.
This failure in GERM WARFARE is unlikely to be motivated by laziness, I suspect it is just a case of ignorance.
A spoonful of diarrhea
I am big on cultivating your microflora, but when it comes to these bugs, there are good guys and bad guys. Okay, it might be a little more complicated than this, the state of the neighbourhood i.e. your immune status impacts how those bacteria behave.
But the gunk that winds up in the bottom of a shopping bag is going to stack the odds towards the seriously bad guys. The kinds of bacteria that can give you a nasty case of the runs – Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli.
Probably not going to kill you, but…
The point of this post is not to create panic, the risks are pretty small. To begin with, most food items have enough packaging around them, that it is difficult to get inside even when you have two hands, so bacteria haven’t got a hope in hell.
But spills happen, fresh produce and bakery items are often not zipped up in layers of plastic. Cross-contamination can happen in a “dirty” bag.
Food poisoning does happen, most of the time you just feel miserable for a few hours, but food poisoning can kill.
Take precautions with that bag
It makes sense to take precautions :
- wash the bag out every so often, especially if there has been a spill or leak of some kind
- watch out for food items that are not smothered in plastic – particularly meaty foods
- don’t leave the bag in the boot (for American readers – this is the trunk) of the car – it’s dark and warm, making it ideal for bacteria to multiply
HAPPY SHOPPING !Survey: Less Than 1 in 6 Americans Frequently Washes Grocery Totes Increasing Risk for Food Poisoning – press release from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics .
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind those groceries ?
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