How to avoid a food poisoning infection from your Bag for Life
Since the 5p bag tax was introduced in England in 2015, more of us are now opting for a reusable ‘Bag for Life’ to carry out our weekly shop.
There is, however, growing concern that customers re-using the same bags for different types of shopping can increase the risk of potentially deadly food poisoning bugs being spread as the outside of food packaging can be contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli and Campylobacter.
As the move from disposable single-use bags to reusable bags picks up speed, the FSA has warned that 'even wrapped raw foods such as pre-packed fresh chicken, fish, etc. may have traces of harmful bugs on the outside of the packaging' and have outlined advisory steps to reduce your risk of contracting an otherwise avoidable food poisoning infection from poor bag hygiene.
FSA: Using bags for life safely
1. Use separate bags
Cross-contamination can occur when bacteria from raw meat, fish and poultry packaging as well as soil from loose vegetables transfers onto the bag surface or other packaging, such as ready to eat food.
Take enough bags with you for raw foods, ready-to-eat food and general household products and make sure you don’t mix your bags up in later shopping trips.
2. Choose the right bag
With more choice of ‘bag for life’ now on sale in supermarkets, make sure you pick the one that suits your shopping habits best. A pouch bag can be handy for a quick shop on the way home from work, or choose a heavy duty woven bag for bigger trips.
3. Label your bags
To help you keep your bags separate some supermarket bags for life now have labels on allowing you mark which carriers you use for raw meat, ready-to-eat food, non-food and other items. If not, you can colour code your bags or mark them yourself so they don’t get mixed up.
4. Use a freezer bag in warmer weather
During summer months it’s important to keep chilled or frozen food at a safe temperature where it will not perish. Investing in a cool or freezer bag can help to keep your shopping cold on the journey home before storing in your fridge or freezer.
5. Check for any spillages or leaks
Leakage from meat packaging, eggs or loose soil from vegetables can all harbour bacteria so it’s important to clean up any spillages as soon as possible. If the soiling is really bad then it’s best to replace it.
6. Wash your cotton bags
If you have a cotton or fabric bag for life, these need to be washed at a high temperature (above 70°C) in the washing machine to kill any harmful bugs. You can also use the Biomaster Hygiene Control Fabric Spray, which has been proven to be effective against Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella and other harmful bacteria. Buy it through The Hygiene Doctor online store or the Biomaster Facebook shop.
7. Replace any damaged bags
A bag for life, is just that – for life. So if your reusable bag becomes damaged over time then your supermarket should replace it free of charge, depending on their own policy.
The Biomaster Bag for Life option
As the Biomaster protected bag for life features an antibacterial lining, the bacteria cannot survive and your bag is safe to re-use for multiple trips, regardless of how often you use it.
To make sure your product is Biomaster protected, make sure to look out for the logo.