Taking a reusable bag to the shops may be good for the environment, but it can also be home to a host of nasty bugs.
The Food Safety Information Council is now warning shoppers that reusable grocery bags could put consumers at risk of food poisoning.
Council Chair Rachelle Williams said, “This ban is great for the environment but there can be the risk of food poisoning from reusable bags.”
Queensland, Victoria and WA will ban single-use plastic bags from July 1, joining the ACT, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania who have had bans in place for several years. Although NSW will not have a ban, Coles and Woolworths have undertaken to phase out single-use plastic bags nationally.
Instead of being offered free plastic bags, customers will have the choice of bringing their own in, or buying reusable bags ranging from 15 cents to $2.
The Food Safety Information Council is now advising shoppers on how to safely use reusable shopping bags to combat sickness in the lead up to the ban — and thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself and your family.
The council recommends using separate, leak-proof, easily washable bags for meat, poultry and seafood, and for fruit and vegetables. Why? By failing to pack items into separate bags, we could be exposing ourselves to these invisible germs.
“Retailers can still provide small plastic bags for these higher risk products which are recyclable at major supermarket,” the council says.
Purchase a cooler bag as well to keep your refrigerated and frozen food at a safe temperature on the way home. And never put fresh fruit and vegetables that won’t be peeled or cooked directly into the trolley.
It’s also advised to do your grocery shopping last when out and about so perishable food doesn’t ruin and, of course, never leave your shopping in a hot car. Once you get home pack chilled and frozen products into your refrigerator of freezer immediately.
“It’s best not to store your reusable shopping bags in your car where they can get hot or can come into contact with pets or dirty items such as sporting equipment and shoes,” the council concluded.