Bags of bacteria

Three tips to help shoppers keep their reusable grocery bags clean and safe

Reusable shopping bags are the best alternative to single-use plastic, but retailers should remind customers to keep them clean.

A study by university of Arizona researchers found coliform bacteria in half of grocery bags and E. coli in 12 per cent. Worse, bacteria levels spiked when bags were put into a car’s trunk for a few hours.

Here are some cleaning tips to give customers.

Cotton bags can go into the washer and dryer. But bags made from non-woven polypropylene should be hand washed. Laminated bags can be sprayed with disinfectant. Bins should be sprayed with a bleach solution and rinsed.

Assign specific bags to specific food categories, such as one for meat; one for dairy; and one for produce. Make sure the bag for meat is machine washable and easily identifiable.

After putting groceries away, clean the kitchen counter where the bags were placed. Bacteria, after all, travels.

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