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Food borne bacteria danger lurks in reusable grocery bags

July 23, 2010

Reusable grocery bags, which are good for the environment, are also a potential breeding ground for food-borne bacteria that can pose serious health risks to the public according to a report recently issued by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University in California.

Testing of randomly tested reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tucson, found that customers were unaware of the contamination that lurked in the bags in the form of E. coli* and other bacteria.

In the report, Charles Gerba, a UA professor of soil, water and environmental science and co-author of the study, wrote, “Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half of the bags sampled. Furthermore, consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags on a weekly basis.”

The levels of bacteria found in the reusable bags were significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems and even death. They are a particular danger for young children, who are especially vulnerable to food-borne illnesses, Gerba wrote.

It was reported that a full 97 percent of shoppers interviewed never washed or bleached their reusable bags. A thorough washing of the bags will kill nearly all the bacteria that accumulate in reusable bags. Make it a practice to toss your reusable grocery bags into the laundry at least weekly to kill the potentially harmful bacteria.

Read the full report at: http://uanews.org/node/32521

What is E.coli?

E.Coli is a bacteria (germ) that causes severe cramps and diarrhea. E. coli is a leading cause of bloody diarrhea. The symptoms are worse in children and older people, and especially in people who have another illness. E. coli infection is more common during the summer months and in northern states.

Symptoms of E.coli:

Symptoms start about 7 days after you are infected. The first sign is severe abdominal cramps that start suddenly. After a few hours, watery diarrhea starts. The diarrhea causes your body to lose fluids and electrolytes (dehydration). This makes you feel sick and tired. The watery diarrhea lasts for about a day. Then the diarrhea changes to bright red bloody stools. The infection makes sores in your intestines, so the stools become bloody. Bloody diarrhea lasts for 2 to 5 days. You might have 10 or more bowel movements a day. Some people say their stools are “all blood and no stool.”

You may have a mild fever or no fever. You may also have nausea or vomiting. If you have any of these symptoms — watery, bloody diarrhea, cramps, fever, nausea or vomiting — try to get to your doctor right away.

Reference:  http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/digestive/disorders/242.html

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