How often do you do laundry? I'm serious.....how often do you wash your clothes? Or maybe a better question to ask is how often do you wear something before you wash it?
What about your reusable grocery bags? When was the last time you washed those? Oh Yeah.......you forgot about those! That smelly pile of canvas festering in the darkest corners of your trunk. Not the pile of gym clothes that have been hiding out since September....you never have time to get to the gym anyway, right?! It's the bacteria riddled grocery bags that carried last month's stockpile of ground beef that was on sale for $3.99/pound and next month carries the fresh veggies for the veg platter you are taking to the Super Bowl party at the neighbor's house.
See where I'm going with this? You wash your hands, you sanitize the grocery cart handle, you bleach every inch of the bathroom.....but you never wash those bags! And they are the primary source for cross contamination. Cross what?? You know...when bacteria from one thing gets onto another. You sneeze on your hand and then shake hands with your boss and he wipes his face with that hand. That's cross contamination. You put raw chicken on a cutting board and then use that same board for vegetable prep. That's cross contamination. You use your bags for one thing and then use them for another. THAT'S CROSS CONTAMINATION!! I am not a germ-a-phobe. I grew up with a dad that told us we need to eat more dirt. Proverbial dirt, I'm sure. Nevertheless, more dirt. But your grocery bags are just wrong.
And I hear about it, people! I am at a different grocery store twice a day 4 days a week for clients. That's 8 different grocery stores, every week. They know me in there. Not because I am there every week. Well....maybe that's why. But they LOVE me because my bags always smell like laundry detergent and the bag guys don't feel like they need a hazmat suit just to pack my groceries. I didn't realize that this was a problem until they said something. So I did some research and what I found was pretty disturbing.
A year ago, USA Today published an article about a study by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University from 2012 on reusable grocery bags and the carts we put them in. You can read the article here: usatoday.com article reusable grocery bags and germs
But to summarize, the germs we carry around in those bags can spread like norovirus. And I'm not talking about the garden variety germs that reside naturally on your very own skin (cough*staph*cough). I'm talking about deal breakers, like E. coli.
It's a pyramid scheme for germs! You carry the bag inside, now the germs are on your hands. You put the bags in the cart. Now those germs are on your hands and your cart. You touch the produce and put it back.....on your hands, the cart, the produce you touched and now the produce that
produce touched......do I really need to go on?
If you already use reusable bags, that's GREAT! If you remember to take them into
the store, even BETTER! Now I challenge you to take it one stop further and wash
them every once in a while.
This is not a public service announcement, friends. This is an intervention. I know, I know. We touch thousands of things every day that harbor bacteria and viruses. You eat more germs than you even want to know. That's right cafeteria salad bar....I'm talking to you. But it's not just the germs you can't see. Look at the inside. That's dirt and food stains. Take a whiff. They smell like dirty gym socks. And it's gross. So wash your bags and do it often, like once a month. Or more often if you have a particularly juicy package. With soap and water please. You will do us ALL a favor! And while you're at it, quit buying the polyurethane bags. They are hard to keep clean and fall apart. Invest in some heavy duty canvas bags that you can throw in the washer and dryer.
Rebecca Nedrow is an ACF Certified Culinarian with a Bachelor's degree in Dietetics from Kansas State University. She is also the Director of Operations for Friend that Cooks Personal Chefs.
We send a talented chef to your home for a half day every week to shop, cook, clean up and stock your refrigerator with a week's worth of healthy prepared meals to reheat.
Friend that Cooks personal chefs in Wichita, Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City offer weekly meal prep for families with busy schedules, food allergies or special diets. Learn more at http://www.friendthatcooks.com