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Reusable Shopping Bags Contaminated with Deadly Bacteria

Portland, OR: Studies done on what's making people sick show that reusable shopping bags can become infected with potentially lethal bacteria, such as Norovirus and E. coli. According to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Disease, Norovirus, which causes about 21 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths a year in the United States, can become embedded in the sides of reusable grocery bags.

Norovirus can cause gastroenteritis, which is not uncommon. In 2010, in the state of Oregon is caused 139 of 213 outbreaks.

An article in USA Today cites the example of a soccer team of 13-14 year old girls who traveled from Oregon to Seattle in October 2010. One of the team members became infected with Norovirus that scientists later determined came from a reusable grocery bag. Tests revealed that the virus was on the sides of the bag below the polypropylene handle.

Another study from the University of Arizona revealed that reusable bags may become infected with several different harmful bacteria. In the study—as reported on over at—researchers tested 84 bags that they'd collected from shoppers in Tuscon, LA, and the San Francisco Bay area. They found that a little more than half of them were contaminated with "potentially harmful bacteria"—and twelve percent of them contained E. coli.

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Published on May-16-12


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