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How people use their eco bag will make you sick

30 October, 2017
Eco bag safety

Eco bag health

Your eco bag is great for the environment, but is it good for your health? The answer completely depends on how responsibly you're using it.


Food cross-contamination

How much thought do you put into packing away your food for the week? For most, if it fits, it sits, and this means your chicken breast will be bouncing close by your broccoli.

An American study into the use of eco bags found that:

  • 30% of people used them to transport groceries and other items
  • 75% of people didn’t separate their meats and vegetables
  • 45% of people stored their bags in the car, with 45% of those opting for the boot and 55% for the back seat
  • Only 3% of people reported cleaning their bags

These are not ideal circumstances for healthy humans, but they are prime conditions for bacteria to thrive.

Safe eco bag practices

Separate your meats and fruit+veges

Meat can carry harmful bacteria that is normally removed during the cooking process. However, if it’s mixed in with a bag carrying a shiny red apple you’re not planning to turn into pie or caramelise, that bacteria might find itself on a raw new home.

So take two bags!

Groceries only

Would you put your sweaty gym towel in your fridge? Probably not – the same rules apply here! Make sure your eco bags are being used for a singular purpose, whether it’s toting books or being used as a cheese sack.

Store them somewhere open

We’re officially ditching the boot – even though you’re more likely to remember it there, try hanging it (by itself) near the door or on top of the fridge.

Wash them regularly

You should be washing your bags regularly - no questions. You may get a pass after a few uses of solely transporting fruits and veges, but any bags that you use to carry meat in should be washed after every trip to the butcher.

The health cost of foodborne illness

In 2011, it was estimated that there’s an estimated 4.1 million cases of foodborne illness, costing an estimated 1.2 billion dollars. There are three main causes of foodborne illness:

Bacterial: This is the most common source of foodborne illness. It’s especially harmful to society’s vulnerable, like the young, sick, or old. Healthy people are able to deal with a level of bacteria in food, but in large quantities it can overwhelm the immune system. Examples include:

  • Salmonella
  • coli
  • Staphylococcus

Viral: Viruses don’t work like bacteria – instead of growing and multiplying on food, they take over healthy cells. Examples of food viruses include:

  • Novovirus
  • Rotavirus
  • Hepatitis A

Toxins: These aren’t faux toxins that shampoos say they can fight – these are poisonous substances made by living organisms or artificially created. They include:

  • Death-cap mushrooms
  • Shellfish toxins
  • Some varieties of berries

Remember, your eco bag is as safe as you make it!


All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.

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