So, does that mean switching to other alternatives such as cloth bags is the solution? If you think so, think again, as reusable bags pose their own risks and dangers to human health.
A study formulated by colleagues at the University of Arizona and Lorna Linda University, based on the contamination of reusable bags stated in their 2010 Assessment of the Potential for Cross Contamination of Food Products by Reusable Shopping Bags:
“Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags, and coli form bacteria in half of them. 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.”
Although some critics showed discontent with the study, real world examples further corroborated its results. For example, in October 2010, a teenage soccer player in Oregon mysteriously fell ill to the norovirus. The teammates quickly caught the sickness as well, leavings scientists baffled.
However, soon epidemiologists uncovered the treacherous yet bizarre culprit: a contaminated cloth bag from the soccer player’s hotel room! Quite surprising, isn’t it? A report by the NBC explained:
“The girl had been very ill in the hotel bathroom, spreading an aerosol of norovirus that landed everywhere, including on the reusable grocery bag hanging in the room. When scientists checked the bag, it tested positive for the bug, even two weeks later.”
Therefore, to avoid these dangers several epidemiologists advise that cloth bags should be washed just as we wash our clothes. But let’s face it, not everybody has time to wash their reusable bags, as they are often used for a multitude of purposes.
Keeping all these things in mind, you definitely might be wondering: what is the solution? While reusing plastic bags as many times as possible is extremely important, there is another thing that you must thoroughly practice to eradicate this problem for good.