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6 food safety tips for reusable shopping bags

Queensland has recently banned all single-use grocery bags. This is a win for the environment but also means a change in our shopping habits.

Reusable bags are made from a range of fabrics ranging from natural cotton to woven synthetics. The idea is to reduce the burden of plastic bags on the environment and reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in a landfill.

Aside from remembering to bring your bags to the store, there are also some food safety tips worth keeping in mind.

Wash reusable shopping bags regularly

Did you know that your reusable grocery bags can harbour nasty bacteria? Not only this, but most people have never washed their bags!

If your bags have labels with washing instructions follow these. Otherwise, cloth bags made of natural fibres can usually be washed in the machine with your regular laundry detergent. Synthetic bags should be cleaned by hand in warm soapy water. Hang both types out to dry on the line. Make sure your bags are thoroughly dry before using or storing them again.

Only use your bags for groceries

Avoid using your reusable shopping bags for other purposes like as a nappy bag, gym bag or beach bag. This way you will avoid introducing bacteria to the shopping bags which could contaminate your food later.

Pack with care to avoid cross-contamination

Place your fresh produce and ready to eat foods in separate bags, away from frozen and raw meat, poultry and fish. Dedicate totes for high-risk items and use the same ones for each shop.

Use chiller bags and refrigerate promptly

Cold foods should be refrigerated within two hours. Keep your frozen and chilled foods cool by using specially designed chiller bags which are insulated.

Keep clean

Wipe down all areas where your reusable bags are placed, like your kitchen counter or dining table, after you have removed your bags. This helps to reduce cross-contamination when you prepare or eat food on those surfaces later.

Store your bags in a clean and dry location

Although it may seem convenient, avoid storing your shopping bags in the car as this is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Instead, choose a clean, dry and well-ventilated location like a cupboard.

Bypass storing bags in the baby seat of your trolley

Generally, the baby or child seat is the most contaminated part of a shopping trolley so avoid this area altogether.