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Reusable Grocery Tote Safety

Contributors: Esther Ellis, MS, RDN, LDN

Published: November 23, 2020

Reviewed: April 12, 2021

reusable grocery bags on seat of car
Glenda Powers/iStock/Thinkstock

Cloth grocery totes are convenient and environmentally friendly, but could they also be making you sick? Bacteria can build up quickly when certain foods spill and aren't cleaned — increasing the risk of food poisoning.

For peace of mind, remember the following tips to help keep your reusable bags good for your health as well as the environment.

  • At checkout, put meat, poultry and fish in a plastic bag before placing in a separate tote away from ready-to-eat foods. This will help prevent juices from leaking and contaminating your reusable bags and food.
  • Clean all areas where you place your totes, such as the kitchen counter or table, to reduce cross-contamination.
  • Wash your reusable bag frequently in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water.
  • Store totes in a clean, dry location. Avoid leaving totes in the trunk of a vehicle.

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