U of A study raises concerns over reusable grocery bags

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They were invented to help rid the world of plastic bags and the potential environmental damage those can cause.

But, while reusable grocery bags may be helpful, they pose a huge health risk, according to a new University of Arizona study.

"How many resuable bags do you own?"

"Oh, too many," Sarah Shaffer was one of several people we ran into in front of the co-op who only uses resuable grocery bags. She, like other people we spoke to got tired of plastic bag pile ups at home.

But, here's what they didn't know, reusable bags could cause them more grief than plastic.

According to Dr. Chuck Gerba, Professor of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science at the University of arizona, reusable bags can be a breeding ground for dangerous food-borne bacteria.

He discovered this in a study he recently conducted.

"Actually some of my personal interest came in because my wife was starting to use reusable bags and I realized she was putting meat products in with produce and other things and I stopped her. 'This is not a good idea I don't think,'" explains Gerba.

Dr. Gerba's study showed of 84 reusable bags collected from shoppers 12% contained E-coli. That number would drop, Gerba says, if people washed their bags regularly.

"Do you ever wash your reusable bags?"

"No, haven't even thought of doing that," says a shopper with reusable bags.  Not surprisingly, only 3% of shoppers in gerba's survey said they do.

One thing you don't want to do is keep your reusable bags in your trunk because Dr. Gerba says keeping them in the trunk creates even more bacteria.

But some shoppers remained skeptical, "Now, that one I'm having a hard time believing."

Believe it or not, it's all true.