I received this article today from Steve Whybrew, the father of a college-age girl we represent who became infected with E. coli O157:H7 in a lettuce outbreak last year.  Steve’s daughter, Heather, was hospitalized for 3 weeks.  She was also interviewed recently in an article for the New York Times about food safety. 

But back to the point of this post.  Given that the trend (very noticeably here in Seattle) is toward using reusable bags, this article provides some serious food for thought.  Among the findings recounted in the article:

The results complied in “A Microbiological Study of Plastic Reusable Bags and `First or single-use’ Plastic Bags” show that reusables are a breeding ground for bacteria and pose public health risks – food poisoning, skin infections such as bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections. Over 30% of the bags had unsafe levels of bacterial contamination, 40% had yeast or mold and some of the bags had intestinal faecal bacteria embedded in their surface when there should have been 0.

What are we to do?  Do we have to choose between being environmentally responsible and getting sickened by a foodborne illness?  All I know is non-permeable surfaces make for better washability.  I’m not so sure about reusable canvas grocery bags after this article.