We've all seen them and probably have all used them. I love my reusable shopping bags, when I can remember to take them with me.
Recently, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association published a report about the dangers of reusing these cloth bags. The report said that bacteria can grow on these bags packed with the fruit, vegetables, and especially any meat that is carried in them. While I agree with what they are saying, you also need to remember who is reporting this, an association of plastics manufacturers. Who loses the most money when we stop using plastic shopping bags and switch to cloth bags? The Plastics Industry.
So, what can we do to prevent the transference of this bacteria to our foods? The main things is to periodically wash the bags, but drying is the key. Laying a bag flat to dry might not allow proper airing out of the bag to prevent bacteria growth. We all know how much bacteria loves warm damp places. After washing the reusable bags, they should be hung up to dry thoroughly. Please don't wash the bag and then throw it in a dark closet to dry.I'm not sure how they would do in a clothes dryer. I haven't tried that. Maybe if a reader has done this, they can post something in the comments section.
A few weeks ago, my eye doctor gave me a cloth bag (with his logo on it) that was insulated. The same that you can buy at the store to bring home cold meat or frozen foods. For these bags, you can wipe them out with a damp soapy cloth and then use a clean cloth to wipe dry.
Remember that food safety for us and our families has to start before we even go to the supermarket.