Activists scramble as Britain warns reusable shopping bags can spread disease

Activists scramble as Britain warns reusable shopping bags can spread disease
(Image: Screen grab of YouTube video)

[On our side of the pond, San Diego homeless workers believe the forced move away from single-use plastic bags in California has encouraged the alarming Hepatitis-A outbreak there, which is now up to 481 cases. The law of unintended consequences continues its career. – LU Staff]

British health activists are telling people not to ditch their reusable bags in the wake of a government warning such products can spread food bacteria and make people sick.

Plastic bag opponents are urging Brits not to ditch their “bags for life.”

“We must not cut down on our use of bags for life as a result of this warning from the Food Standards Agency,” Tony Lewis, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), told The Guardian on Friday.

CIEH fears the FSA warning could deter people from using “bags for life” and push them to use more disposable, plastic bags.

The UK began taxing reusable bags, or “bags for life” as they call them, nearly two years ago to cut down on plastic bag pollution. The unintended consequence, however is bacteria from meat can spread disease if not properly stored.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a warning Monday that consumers should use separate bags for meat, raw foods and other products that can easily spread bacteria. FSA said “you should have enough bags to carry raw foods, ready-to-eat foods and non-food items such as washing powder separately.”

FSA warned “raw foods (meat, fish and shellfish, loose vegetables with soil on, and eggs) can contain germs or have germs on their surface that cause food poisoning,” The Guardian reported, adding “wrapped raw foods such as pre-packed fresh meat or fish may have traces of harmful bugs on the outside of the packaging.”

“Keep enough bags for life for raw foods only and don’t use the same bags again for ready-to-eat foods or for carrying other household items,” FSA said.

Interestingly enough, the FSA has been pretty open about this in the past year. FSA Chairwoman Heather Hancock told the Daily Telegraph in January the agency wanted “shoppers to be handed free disposable bags when buying raw chicken, with special reminders to use them at self-service checkouts.”

FSA is basically telling shoppers they need multiple, and even color-coded, bags every time they go shopping. Each bag would be designated for certain products, which could be a big headache.

Plastic bag use fell 85 percent after grocery stores started taxing them at 7 cents each. Cities all over the world have adopted similar taxes to cut down on plastic bag use.

“The excessive use and disposal of plastics in our country is a growing problem which affects all of us and deeply damages our environment. Bags for life are integral to efforts to tackle this,” Lewis said.

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This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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