As we continue the conversation around HoCo 4-19: Howard County – Authority to Impose Fees for Use of Disposable Bags (as I am calling the Howard County Bag Tax Bill)…Delegate Frank Turner asked the following question during the public meeting on the 26th “Has any research been done on the safety and health of bags you use on a continuing basis?” The quick answer is yes, there is research…here is data from a University of Arizona study conducted in 2010:
Reusable Grocery Bags Contaminated With E. Coli, Other Bacteria
These bags may be friendly to the environment, but not necessarily to you, according to a new report by researchers at two universities.
Reusable grocery bags can be a breeding ground for dangerous food-borne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health, according to a joint food-safety research report issued today by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University in California.
The research study – which randomly tested reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco – also found consumers were almost completely unaware of the need to regularly wash their bags.
“Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half of the bags sampled,” said Charles Gerba, a UA professor of soil, water and environmental science and co-author of the study. “Furthermore, consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags on a weekly basis.”
Bacteria levels found in reusable bags were significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems and even death. They are a particular danger for young children, who are especially vulnerable to food-borne illnesses, Gerba said.
The study also found that awareness of potential risks was very low. A full 97 percent of those interviewed never washed or bleached their reusable bags, said Gerba, adding that thorough washing kills nearly all bacteria that accumulate in reusable bags.
Read the full study here: https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/reusable-grocery-bags-contaminated-with-e-coli-other-bacteria
I know…an 8 year old study is old data…so I researched additional articles from reputable sources…here are some article I found on this topic:
I am publishing this as an answer the question asked by Delegate Turner at the meeting on the 26th (at the 2 hour, 45 minute, 45 second mark of the video…see below).
I wonder how many shoppers that use reusable bags for grocery shopping will use those same bags for shopping at Walmart, Target and the mall (or other stores) to avoid the “fee / tax”? Will that potentially cause cross contamination issues for consumers?
I still support banning the bag and placing the burden on the businesses to provide another option other than plastic bags at point of sale. I believe that is the best option for our county and will make the greatest impact on removing plastic bags from our community.
More articles planned on this topic. I am still viewing the testimony given on the 26th…so stay tuned.