Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scientists have found that, compared to plastic bags, reusable grocery bags are responsible for a 25 percent higher incidence of E. coli infection and a 46 percent higher risk of death from food-borne illnesses. Researchers examined figures before and after a ban on plastic bags in San Francisco in 2007, followed by Los Angeles, Malibu, and Palo Alto in 2012. Immediately after each ban, there was a spike in E. coli, food-borne illnesses, related ER visits, and food-infection deaths. Reusable bags were found to be breeding grounds for E. coli and other deadly bacteria.

Of randomly selected reusable grocery bags, 51 percent were found to contain coliform bacteria, and 8 percent contained E. coli. Most users increased the risk by not using separate bags for meats and vegetables, and by storing bags in car trunks where bacteria multiply faster. The team concluded that “conservative estimates of the costs and benefits of the… plastic bag ban suggest the health risks they impose are not likely offset by environmental benefits.” This paper was released by the Social Science Research Network in January, 2013, and the complete report is now available at http://tinyurl.com/af2tny3 without cost.

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