Food Protection Trends - August 2011 - (Page 508)

ARTICLES Copyright© 2011, International Association for Food Protection 6200 Aurora Ave., Suite 200W, Des Moines, IA 50322-2864 Food Protection Trends, Vol. 31, No. 8, Pages 508–513 Assessment of the Potential for Cross-contamination of Food Products by Reusable Shopping Bags 1 DAVID L. WILLIAMS,1 CHARLES P. GERBA,1* SHERRI MAXWELL1 and RYAN G. SINCLAIR2 Dept. of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA; and 2Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Dept. of Environmental Health, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA INTRODUCTION ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to assess the potential for cross-contamination of food products by reusable bags used to carry groceries. Reusable bags were collected at random from consumers as they entered grocery stores in California and Arizona. In interviews, it was found that reusable bags are seldom if ever washed and often used for multiple purposes. Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half. Escherichia coli were identified in 8% of the bags, as well as a wide range of enteric bacteria, including several opportunistic pathogens. When meat juices were added to bags and stored in the trunks of cars for two hours, the number of bacteria increased 10-fold, indicating the potential for bacterial growth in the bags. Hand or machine washing was found to reduce the bacteria in bags by > 99.9%. These results indicate that reusable bags, if not properly washed on a regular basis, can play a role in the cross-contamination of foods. It is recommended that the public be educated about the proper care of reusable bags by means of printed instructions on the bags or through public service announcements. A peer-reviewed article Author for correspondence: Phone: +1 520.621.6906; Fax: +1 520.621.6366 E-mail: * Most foodborne illnesses are believed to originate in food prepared or consumed in the home (1, 2, 10). Crosscontamination of foods during handling is one of the factors leading to this assumption. Cross-contamination occurs when disease-causing microorganisms are transferred from one food to another. For example, raw meat products are often contaminated with foodborne bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter (3), and, although cooking foods usually destroy these bacteria, the organisms may be transferred to other foods that are sometimes consumed uncooked, or may contaminate the hands of consumers and be directly transferred to the mouth, resulting in infection. Transfer may occur by surfaces such as cutting boards and kitchen counter tops as well as by the hands (1, 9). Reusable bags for transport of groceries from the store to the consumer’s home have become popular in recent years. Since these bags are often reused, and potentially are used for multiple purposes, the possibility for contamination of food products as well as the consumer’s hands exists (6). The goal of this project was to assess the potential for reusable bags to cross contaminate foods carried in reusable bags. 508 FOOD PROTECTION TRENDS | AUGUST 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Protection Trends - August 2011

Food Protection Trends - August 2011
Sustaining Members
Reflections of Your President
Commentary from the Executive Director
Assessment of the Potential for Cross-contamination of Food Products by Reusable Shopping Bags
Verification of Hygiene in Australian Manufacturing Beef Processing — Focus on Escherichia coli O157
IAFP’s European Symposium Hightlights
New Members
What’s Happening in Food Safety
Industry Products
Coming Events
Advertising Index
Journal of Food Protection Table of Contents
Membership Application
Celebrating 100 Years of IAFP: 2000s

Food Protection Trends - August 2011