E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

Harmful bacteria found in our reusable shopping bags

30th May 2012

Researchers at the University of Arizona tested 84 reusable shopping bags and found over half were contaminated with harmful bacteria, including E.coli.

Contamination occurs when fluids such as fruit juices and meat blood leak from their packaging and deposit miniscule droplets onto the bag material. Fungus and mold can also thrive among the fibers. These bags are put onto supermarket check-out belts, car boots, driveways, and usually end up on kitchen worktops where any contamination would then be passed on to food being prepared there.

The study also showed that most bags are never washed.

Handbags are another germ magnet and good handbag hygiene suggests a daily wipe-down of the exterior with an anti-bacterial soap. We ought to keep an eye on what’s inside the bag too: stow lotions, potions and food products in sealable containers. Tighten the caps.

Same tips apply to our other household reusables. Fruit bowls are an attractive nuisance. Over-ripened fruit and veg can harbour bugs called pseudomonas which can cause infections and severe gastrointestinal upset. Listeria and salmonella also creep inside the cornucopia.

Following last summer’s E.coli outbreak in Europe that killed 26 and left thousands gravely ill, reminders were issued to always wash your produce. You should also wash or swab your storage containers weekly.

Many of us like to reuse plastic drinks bottles, but refillings will likely contain high levels of bacteria unless bottles are properly cleaned, and refilled with hands that are, in turn, properly cleaned.

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