Danger: Reusable Grocery Bags

Writer Michael Shaw recently produced a very interesting blog post and article on reusable grocery bags. Most of us might think the only really big drawback of such things is remembering to keep them handy. Whole Foods apparently didn’t anticipate too many drawbacks of such bags, when they banned the convenient plastic bags and began pushing reusable ones in addition to offering paper bags. CEI pointed out the drawbacks associated with paper.

But Shaw points out the unintended problems associated with the reusable bags that can arise from a public health perspective. They become breeding grounds for bacteria and other potentially dangerous agents. He notes: “In a report released on April 21, 2009, entitled ‘A Microbiological Study of Plastic Reusable Bags and First or single-use Plastic Bags,’ findings indicate that reusables are a breeding ground for bacteria and pose public health risks—food poisoning, skin infections such as bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections. It is noted that in the control group (single-use plastic bags and first-use reusables), there was no evidence of bacteria, mold, yeast, or total coliforms.”

Never occurred to me, but it seems like a quite obvious problem! And he points to a study showing that periodic washing of the bags isn’t sufficient to remove the germs. The inability to anticipate such pitfalls is yet another reason why regulators should allow consumers to make their own choices—lest they want to be held accountable for the problems! Although, no one ever does hold them accountable–and that is an even BIGGER problem!

Photo source:  U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shen-Chia Chu