Reusable grocery bags could be bacteria-ridden - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Reusable grocery bags could be bacteria-ridden

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Amarillo, TX - An attempt to protect our environment may actually be putting your health at risk.

More and more people are opting to shop with reusable grocery bags these days, but many shoppers may be carrying more in those bags than just groceries.

"If there's some other kind of food stuff left inside your bag, it will attract all kinds of mold and other bacteria," said Dr. Nabarun Ghosh, a Professor of Biology for West Texas A&M University.

Dr. Ghosh, who's done his fair share of research on food contamination, is one of many concerned about reusing bags that carry food, particularly meat.

"Molds may not be that bad, it might make you sick or something but you can recover," said Dr. Ghosh. "But if it's salmonella or some other kinds of serious bacteria, it can kill you."

But as concern for the environment grows, so has the popularity of the reusable bags which for some, outweighs the risks.

"Sometimes I wipe them out if I feel the need," said one shopper using reusable bags.

"There's always a way to sanitize them out if there's a concern about meats or anything we're spilling into them," added Katelyn Watters, another Amarillo shopper.

Even after these reusable bags are emptied or cleaned, many store them in places like the trunk, which turns out may just be another recipe for disaster.

"That bag will work just like an incubator," added Dr. Ghosh. "That's the best place where bacteria and germs can grow."

Until there's an easier way to sterilize all reusable bags before reusing, shoppers will have to choose between using a potentially germy bag, or go back to the basics - paper or plastic.