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Reusable Grocery Bags/Bins: Reducing Cross-Contamination Risk 

As we become more environmentally conscious, many people are using reusable bins, plastic bags and cloth bags when shopping for groceries.  While these products may be "green," there may be a risk of cross-contamination of food with bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

As we reuse bags and bins frequently, we may not be diligent in cleaning them after each use.  These bags and bins pick up bacteria from foods they carry and from the environment.

To prevent cross-contamination, follow these tips:

  • Cloth bags/bins should be cleaned and washed frequently by machine or using hot soapy water, especially if carrying fresh produce, meat poultry or fish.

  • Use a separate bag/bin for fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry and fish, and another bin/bag for ready-to-eat foods and produce.

  • Use the clear bags found in produce or meat sections and place these products in these bags before putting them in your reusable bag/bin.  This prevents leakage of juices into your bag/bin.

  • If travelling for long distances or doing multiple stops, place raw meats in a cooler with ice packs to prevent spoilage of the meat products.

  • Wash your hands with hot soapy water after putting away your groceries and also clean the area where the bags/bins were placed when emptying them.

  • Ensure clean bags/bins are kept in an area where environmental contamination can not occur. If these are kept in car trunks, keep them in covered containers to prevent contamination.

Additional Resources:

Food Safety Tips For Reusable Grocery Bags and Bins - Health Canada