Research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania Law School has found that emergency room visits and deaths spiked by at least one fourth when plastic bag bans went into effect in California. The culprit: food borne illnesses from bacteria like E. coli growing in reusable grocery bags.
The study revealed:
- Coliform bacteria were found in 51 percent of the bags tested.
- E. coli was found in 8 percent of the bags examined.
- Most people did not use separate bags for meats and vegetables.
- 97 percent of individuals indicated they never washed their reusable grocery bags.
I wonder how many of our politicians who enforced plastic bag ban ordinances in their jurisdictions have thought of the unintended consequences of such a policy. Personally, I’m not convinced that plastic bag bans will have a positive impact on the environment. In fact, paper bags actually have an overall worse impact than plastic. Now we’re also discovering a serious negative impact on human health in the affected community too. With plastic bag bans gaining momentum in the Philippines, we could be setting ourselves up for an unseen public health predicament.
Regardless of what you believe, just remember to extend your basic food sanitation practices to your reusable grocery bags:
Use separate bags for raw meat and fish, vegetables, packaged food and dry goods.
Mark the raw meat and fish bags and make sure you don’t use them for any other type of product.
Do not store the reusable bags in your car trunk as the research paper found that this drastically increased bacteria growth.
The raw meat and fish bags especially should be washed after every use to eradicate dangerous bacteria.
To kill the bacteria when washing, you need to get the water up to 60°C/140°F or use chemicals.
Also keep in mind that if you have house helpers who do your shopping, they must also be taught these food safety practices.