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Thread: How clean are your reusable shopping bags?

  1. #1
    Canadian Guru hollyquaiscer's Avatar
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    I came across this post in one of my emails today and found it interesting and something that a lot of people don't think about very much. I always had bags for fruits and veggies, bags for dairy, bags for meat and then bags for other. Ii bet a lot of people don't though. And, do you clean your bags??? Here are some great tips:

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    How Clean Is Your Grocery Bag?

    Reusable grocery bags may be eco-friendly, but they can also be breeding grounds for bacteria. Follow these tips to avoid cross-contamination.

    How Clean Is Your Grocery Bag?

    You disinfect your counters, wash your hands before cooking and always store raw meat safely, but do you sanitize your grocery bags? "Most people are familiar with the risks attributed to cross-contamination in our kitchens but think very little of [cross-contamination] during shopping," says Kevin Allen, an assistant professor of food microbiology at the University of British Columbia.
    In recent years, reusable grocery totes have gained in popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to recyclable plastic bags. While their environmental benefits can't be denied, Allen warns that reusable bags can become contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms, passing bacteria such as salmonella onto other foods.
    But there's no need to switch back to plastic. Just follow these tips to make sure your grocery bags are as clean as your kitchen.
    Organize your grocery bags
    Health Canada recommends splitting your reusable grocery bags into two categories: one set for raw meat, poultry and fish, and one for ready-to-eat foods such as fruit and vegetables. This will help minimize the risk of cross-contamination. 
Tip: Buying bags in two different colours will help you remember which are which.
    Use extra protection
    When buying raw meat and other high-risk foods, Allen suggests taking advantage of the clear plastic bags at the meat and fish counters. An extra layer of plastic will help prevent the meat from contaminating your grocery bag (and, potentially, other foods).
    Keep 'em clean
    Even if you make sure to wrap your meat in plastic before taking it home, there's no guarantee your grocery bag hasn't come in contact with bacteria. "It's impossible to know whether a food is contaminated, so ensuring that you're cleaning and disinfecting your reusable bags is essential in minimizing possible cross-contamination," says Allen.
    If you're using thick plastic reusable bags, Allen recommends wiping them down with a commercial cleaning product or a diluted bleach solution after each use. If you're using cloth bags, make sure to toss them in the wash on a regular basis; using the dryer afterward will help kill off any remaining bacteria.
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    Misanthrope GoJays's Avatar
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    how clean are my reuseable shopping bags? lol, not very.. i never think of throwing them in the wash.. oh well, one day..

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    Whenever I buy meat, I put it in several layers of produce bags before it goes into my shopping bag. I also put all produce in produce bags, so nothing actually comes into contact with the bag. I don't usually wash out my bags unless something spills. But I agree, there's always a chance of cross-contamination. I just choose not to worry about it a whole lot.
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    Smart Canuck ninna's Avatar
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    Hmm. You raise a great point and I like the idea of having different bags for different items. I have different knives and different cutting boards in my kitchen to prevent cross contamination. hehe. They are even color coded so I don't mess up. Green for veggies. Blue for seafood. Red for red wheat. White for chicken. But I never thought to do that with my grocery bags though. *duh* lol. Seems so obvious now that you point it out.

    My re-useable shopping bags are disgusting. And I don't know about anyone else, but when the cashier is whipping through my stuff at No Frills and I'm loading crap onto the belt while watching for scan errors while passing over coupons as I go while trying to watch that my kids aren't taking off in the store...well...I'm pretty sure there's no way in heck I'd even manage to remember to bag certain items in certain bags to prevent cross contamination. Hell. I am lucky to get all my crap into bags before the next 16 customers in line have been processed. LOL. You add a DH into the mix and there's no way the bag plan would work.

    But maybe I'll shove them in the washer just to be safe.
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    Mastermind
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    Mine are filthy and the guy at Costco said something to me once, I had no words for him

    We had just been picking veggies at the farm and they were full of dirt lol

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    Awake. TaraF's Avatar
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    Mine should be clean because I only ever put meat and veg in plastic bags and don't even put those bags in my reusable ones, call me a germphobe but it's how I do it lol Only "dry goods" essentially go in me reusable bags, things that shouldn't be carrying any contaminants like boxed items, jarred items, bagged items like bread, etc.
    Last edited by TaraF; Thu, May 17th, 2012 at 11:54 AM.

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    Luv Saving People Money MortgageQueen's Avatar
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    That's why I prefer cloth bags over plastic. I just throw them in the wash every week or so.
    Regardless, all vegies should be thoroughly washed before use.

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    Smart Canuck glowworm2k's Avatar
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    I use cloth bags and my knapsack for all the groceries I buy when I'm out and about. I normally only buy fish or meats when I'm out with DH (walking doesn't get it home fast enough to ensure that it won't get too warm, and carrying ice packs/coolers would just make everything too heavy!). When we're out together, we normally grab the boxes from food basics to put our groceries in - the cats love 'em and they are also re-used at home provided they are clean. I must admit though that I am pretty lax about putting loose veggies in my cloth bags. I'm with MortgageQueen: I always figure it's no biggie as I always wash my produce before I use it.
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    lighthousejen
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    Mine are spotless!...... I always forget to bring them with me

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    Smart Canuck bluerose's Avatar
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    nevered washed.


  11. #11
    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    holly, I saw that article a while ago, and like most of you I had never given a thought to the cleanliness of my bags. So I immediately tossed all of them into the washer. ( I had many because I had to keep purchasing new ones every time I filled them with groceries for DS and he never returned the bags to me, lol) I remember feeling so good knowing now that my reusable bags would now be all sanitary. As I switched the load of clothes and bags to the dryer I never thought for one moment that some were " plastic-type " bags.
    I now own about 8 very wrinkled ( partially melted ) Metro bags. Oh well, they are just like me..... clean and wrinkled! ha ha ha .

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    Canadian Guru hollyquaiscer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walkonby View Post
    holly, I saw that article a while ago, and like most of you I had never given a thought to the cleanliness of my bags. So I immediately tossed all of them into the washer. ( I had many because I had to keep purchasing new ones every time I filled them with groceries for DS and he never returned the bags to me, lol) I remember feeling so good knowing now that my reusable bags would now be all sanitary. As I switched the load of clothes and bags to the dryer I never thought for one moment that some were " plastic-type " bags.
    I now own about 8 very wrinkled ( partially melted ) Metro bags. Oh well, they are just like me..... clean and wrinkled! ha ha ha .

    Bahahaha...I almost peed myself....your bags must look like me
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    .
    Last edited by lecale; Tue, Jan 20th, 2015 at 09:15 AM.
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    Mastermind bargain_hunter_lola's Avatar
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    I only put dry type foods in my re-useable bags. Meat and dairy always get one of those $0.05 bags and I throw those out when I get home. Not so earth friendly I know, but it's not worth the chance of germs or bad smells in my re-useable bags. Mine are mostly plastic. The cloth ones always seem to pick up too much dog hair - even when I wash them and keep them up.
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    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hollyquaiscer View Post
    Bahahaha...I almost peed myself....your bags must look like me

    this is the new lol for us then



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