WHILE good for the environment, the movement to eliminate plastic shopping bags may have some unintended health consequences according to Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Reusable shopping bags may cause microbial cross contamination and should be colour coded or labelled so shoppers can have separate bags for raw foods, packaged items and household products such as detergent, according to new FSA recommendations.
Packaging can harbour traces of harmful bacteria that can cause stomach bugs, the agency warned in a blog post, urging consumers to take common sense steps “to minimise the chances of getting food poisoning”.
“Even if there are no obvious spillages or staining after several uses we would recommend that cotton/fabric ‘bags for life’ be machine washed regularly if they have been used for carrying raw items,” it added.
A new UK regulation requires large shops to charge 5p for single use plastic bags, while in Australia major supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths have also announced plans to phase out plastic bags.