Mind your Bags!
Merton Group are GREEN and love the recent emphasis on recycling bags!
It is about time we all got on board with reducing the crazy amount of waste we produce!
There are a few things to consider when re-using your bags it seems, so we have listed a few here to help avoid nasty germs you might not expect in your morning cereal!
Last year a team led by Professor Anthony Hilton (head of biological and biomedical science at Aston University) carried out an investigation into bacterial contamination of single-use plastic bags, jute reusable bags and bags for life.
They investigated the ability of bacteria to survive on the bags and also the ease of transfer of bacteria from the skin to the bag, and the bag to the skin. He says their experiments revealed that:
1 million cells of Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria commonly found on the hands but which can cause illness, when placed on the bag survived over 8 weeks and took 16 weeks to disappear completely.
1 million E. coli cells, known to cause diarrhoea infection, survived 48 hours before becoming undetectable – enough time to cause illness.
Up to 23% of bacteria on plastic bags could be transferred in a single touch to hands.
According to Professor Hilton, we need to be aware that if you carry uncooked meat in a bag one day and then use the same bag for carrying ready-to-eat food such as fruit, cheese or bread, there is the potential for cross-contamination.**
TIPS TO CONSIDER –
1 – Pack raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods, in separate bags. This could either be a plastic bag provided by the shop (there will be no charge for bags that only contain unwrapped food, goods contaminated by soil, raw meat and fish), or a reusable bag for life.
2 – Try to organise your bags so you don’t mix content. This will help avoid possible cross contamination. Try to highlight the ones used for raw foods only.
3 – Wash your bags. Seems daft BUT keeping them clean will obviously help reduce the chances of germs hanging around. Flip them inside out and give them a spray with any household cleaner with antibacterial agents in it. Give the handles a wipe too.
A poll revealed 97 per cent of shoppers who used eco-friendly bags never washed or bleached them. ***
4 – Check your bags for spillages (for example raw meat juices or soil) after every use. If there has been any spillage, soiling or damage, plastic bags for life or single-use plastic carrier bags should ideally be disposed of. Cotton/fabric bags for life can be put in the washing machine.
5 – Keep an eye out for developments in antibacterial bags. Might be overkill but product developers are working on solutions to help eliminate bacteria on and around packaging which may save you a weekly bag wash one day!
6 – Keep recycling and re-using bags. If you are sensible you should never have any problems with what some people might see as a big deal. It isn’t a big deal. Remember to recycle any unwanted bags properly at a recycling centre if they become unsuitable for re-use.
7 – Don’t panic. We don’t need to live in a sterile world. Just be aware of the potential issues and stay switched on. Consider chopping boards in the kitchen and apply the same science!
For more information on how important it is that we reduce, re-use and recycle our plastics bags, and the new 5p charge – please click here.
**Source – http://www.webmd.boots.com/healthy-eating/news/20151005/bacteria-warning-over-bags-for-life
***Source – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/7863807/Bags-for-life-could-have-E.coli.html
LINK INFO – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/single-use-plastic-carrier-bags-why-were-introducing-the-charge/carrier-bags-why-theres-a-5p-charge