Dirt Bags at the Grocery Store

Have you noticed the awful looks you get from the reusable bag fanatics at the supermarket? Put your groceries in plastic and they act like you just backed over a baby seal in a Hummer. These people are not amused.

Eco-snobbery aside, I’ve actually been thinking of switching to reusable bags. There’s no denying that plastic bags are horribly wasteful, and even if you repurpose some of them for things like handling dog poop, many of them get tossed away just minutes after you receive them at the store.

Now I’m not so sure.

In something that sounds like a bad local TV sweeps story, a new study has found that these reusable bags are often festering nests of harmful bacteria. Here’s an excerpt:

“Reusable bags were collected at random from consumers as they entered grocery stores in California and Arizona. In interviews it was found that reusable bags are seldom if ever washed and often used for multiple purposes. Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half. Escherichia coli were identified in 12% of the bags and a wide range of enteric bacteria, including several opportunistic pathogens. When meat juices were added to bags and stored in the trunks of cars for two hours the number of bacteria increased 10-fold indicating the potential for bacterial growth in the bags.”

Yuck. All this comes at a time when California is trying to pass a law banning plastic grocery bags. Not to sound like a nut, but widespread us of reusable bags could have the potential to make a minor public health problem into a big one.

So what should you do to protect yourself? Wash the stupid things now and then, OK? If not for yourself, think about those poor kids at Price Chopper who have to put their hands into your filthy bags while packing groceries. You want them to get sick, too?

Meanwhile, steal yourself to the icy glare of the sanctimonious shoppers and their smarter than thou bag bias. You may not be green, but at least you’re clean.

37 responses to “Dirt Bags at the Grocery Store

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *