Eco-friendly reusable grocery totes are becoming increasingly popular with shoppers but a recent survey found that only 15% of us are washing them regularly, which can quickly turn your good intentions into a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can make you sick.
But it’s not just failing to wash reusable totes that increases your risk of food poisoning, says the American Dietetic Association, one of the sponsors of the Home Food Safety program. There are a few other things you can do to keep your desire to be “green” from having an entirely different and unpleasant meaning.
Grocery Tote Safety Tips:
- Wash your grocery tote frequently in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water. Whether you use a clothes dryer or allow it to drip dry, make sure the bag is completely dry before storing or reusing.
- When shopping, put meat, poultry and fish in separate plastic bags before placing in the tote. This will help prevent juices from leaking and contaminating your reusable bags and food. (Some reusable totes have a leak-proof lining that will work too.)
- Place fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry and fish in separate totes from produce and ready-to-eat foods.
- Clean all areas where you place your totes, such as kitchen counter or table, to reduce cross contamination.
- Store totes in a clean, dry location. Avoid leaving totes in the trunk of a vehicle.
Other Food Safety Tips:
Preventing cross contamination when preparing or storing foods is also important to prevent illness.
- To stay safe in the kitchen, use two cutting boards: one strictly to cut raw meat, poultry and seafood; the other for ready-to-eat foods, like breads and vegetables.
- Cutting boards can be sanitized in the dishwasher or by using hydrogen peroxide or undiluted white vinegar. Be careful when using hydrogen peroxide as it can bleach/discolor fabrics and some surfaces.
- In the refrigerator, place packages of raw meat in a dish or bowl to prevent juices from dripping on other items.
- Sanitize the refrigerator regularly with hydrogen peroxide or undiluted white vinegar.
This time of year it is especially important to practice good food safety. Protect yourself and Don’t Let Foodborne Illness Spoil Your Summer!
Home Food Safety