Re-usable grocery bags spread foodborne illness? Fact or fiction?

canvas-grocery-bag1-150x150In 2012, a report by two law professors suggested that reusable grocery bags were to blame for an increase in illnesses and deaths in California. Fact or fiction?

“Fiction – mostly,” says UW-Madison Extension food scientist Barb Ingham in a recent blog post. “The authors did not use data appropriately in their attempt to link what are, in actuality, unrelated events.”

But it’s true that certain foods, such as raw produce, meat, poultry, and fish may contain bacteria that can cause foodborne illness,” she adds. “Reusable bags can pick up and accumulate the bacteria from these foods, which can then cross-contaminate other foods and non-food items if appropriate measures are not taken. So, even though the study drew incorrect conclusions, her blog post offers some tips for using reusable grocery bags.