Reusable grocery bags could be storing germs - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Reusable grocery bags could be storing germs

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Reusable bags are very popular and Earth friendly, but you could be carrying more in these bags than just groceries. Doctors say you need to take some important steps to protect your family from germs.

Lab tests show they can be filled with bacteria, including E. coli, and that can make you very sick.

"When we use the grocery bags, of course, they come into contact with poultry, meats, produce that have bacteria on them. And we've all had a leak or one of our chicken containers or something like that. Well, that all contains bacteria, which then contaminates the bag, so the next thing that goes into the bag can be contaminated secondarily," said Dr. Susan Rehm with the Cleveland Clinic.

Cross-contamination can happen when meat, fruits and vegetables and other foods are put in the same bag.

For example, when cooking, the same cutting board would not be used to prepare chicken and cut veggies, right? Doctors say that's what is happening with the reusable bags.

Before you head out to the grocery store, here are a few simple steps to stay safe:

  • Wash the bags. Use hot, soapy water after each trip to the store.
  • Color code the bags. Use red for raw meat and green for vegetables and never use those bags for other groceries. This helps avoid cross-contamination.
  • Don't store the bags in your car. The heat in the trunk can cause any bacteria in the bags to grow fast, which is something you don't want.
  • Wipe down where you drop your bags. This means cleaning the kitchen counter or table to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Don't use your reusable bags for any other purpose. Don't use them for carrying books or personal items - just groceries.

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