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Are bacteria in your reusable shopping bag?

June 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new study could make you think twice about grabbing that reusable bag for your groceries. Turns out the eco-friendly sacks may carry some nasty bacteria. The study comes amid a push to ban plastic bags in California.They're supposed to be good for the environment. Because reusable shopping bags are, by definition, reusable.

But at the same time the state of California is making a push for this kind of shopping bag, a new study shows about one out of every 10 reusable shopping bags tests positive for E. coli.

But the man who co-wrote the report, Dr. Ryan Sinclair of Loma Linda University, is not surprised.

"I know that they're dirty. I wasn't surprised at all that we found bacteria in them. I expected to find bacteria," said Sinclair.

Sinclair says it's because people don't wash their shopping bags, probably because the thought never crossed their mind. But it should, especially when you consider what might be inside one of these bags.

"Somehow the bacteria from an intestinal tract of a mammal has gotten in your grocery bag, and you're not sure how that's happened, but it's not good," said Sinclair.

But Bryan Early of Californians Against Waste, who supports the ban on throwaway bags, says people shouldn't read too much into this study.

"This study was funded by the plastic industry, and they're trying to divert away from the fact that they produce 19 billion plastic bags that are distributed in California, far too many of which are littered," said Early.

But it is something to at least think about next time you're bringing home the family dinner.


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