Reusable Bags Pose Health Risks

Recently I went in to the Whole Foods store at 92nd and Sheridan in Westminster. Upon checkout, the clerk informed me that the store no longer offered normal plastic bags. I had to take paper instead or buy one of the “reusable” bags. The clerk indicated that the policy was “for the environment,” to which I responded something like, “Don’t give me your pseudo-scientific environmentalist BS.”

I have not been into a Whole Foods since. I proudly ask for plastic bags every time I go into Whole Foods’s competitor, Sunflower. It turns out that when I go shopping at a grocery store, I’m there to buy food, not listen to some fact-challenged religious sermon.

As I reviewed in January, the Colorado legislature considered fining the use of plastic grocery bags. For the environment. Even though plastic bag crack-downs actually harm the environment (not that that’s a primary reason to oppose the measure). Thankfully, the effort failed.

But it turns out that continually bagging up meats and unwashed vegetables in a “reusable,” “environmentally friendly” bag makes it, like, all gross and stuff.

Keith Lockitch of the Ayn Rand Center points to an article from the National Post titled, Back to plastic? Reusable grocery bags may cause food poisoning. The article reviews:

A microbiological study — a first in North America — of the popular, eco-friendly bags has uncovered some unsettling facts. Swab-testing by two independent laboratories found unacceptably high levels of bacterial, yeast, mold and coliform counts in the reusable bags.

“The main risk is food poisoning,” Dr. Richard Summerbell, research director at Toronto-based Sporometrics and former chief of medical mycology for the Ontario Ministry of Health, stated in a news release. Dr. Summerbell evaluated the study results.

“But other significant risks include skin infections such as bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections,” he stated.

The study found that 64% of the reusable bags tested were contaminated with some level of bacteria and close to 30% had elevated bacterial counts higher than what’s considered safe for drinking water.

Further, 40% of the bags had yeast or mold, and some of the bags had an unacceptable presence of coliforms, faecal intestinal bacteria, when there should have been 0.

The solution? Wash the bag. But as Lockitch writes, “What about all the water and energy consumed by the washing machine, not to mention all the evil detergents and chemicals that get washed down the drain?! No, laundering the bags will still have an environmental impact–it will still leave a ‘footprint.'”

Give me the plastic. And if you want to hassle me about it I can always double-bag it.

One thought on “Reusable Bags Pose Health Risks”

  1. Not only do government economists fail to look at the invisible or unintended consequences of their actions but so do the environmental groups. What ever happened to critical thinking and logic?

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