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How can reusable grocery bags cause food poisoning?

Unfortunately, only 15 percent of Americans wash their reusable tote bags on a regular basis, according to a survey conducted by the Home Food Safety program, collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and ConAgra Foods.

Putting raw meat and poultry along with fresh veggies in the bag could cause cross contamination. The bacteria-containing raw meat and poultry drippings could easily cross contaminate the fresh produce in the same bag. While the meat and poultry will be cooked, the fresh produce may not be setting the stage for food poisoning.

With 48 million Americans affected annually by food poisoning caused by salmonella, listeria, and E. coli, this shopping habit not only illustrates the potential cross contamination of bacteria-containing meats and poultry with fresh produce but also the potential of infecting the bag for future outings.

Separating tote bags (one for raw meats, fish, and poultry and another for fresh produce) as well as washing the bags after each outing seems like an easy way to prevent a potential risk of contracting foodborne illness. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.