Reusable bag health risk stems from meat juice

Those reusable grocery bags may be an environmentally friendly replacement for the plastic store bags, but they could be a breeding ground for bacteria including E. coli when juice from raw meat seeps out of packaging and on to the bag. The next time something is put in the bag, it could get contaminated, a study says.

"Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half of the bags sampled," said study co-author Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona professor. The study, a joint project by University of Arizona and Loma Linda University, tested 84 reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- and more than half were contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria, including 12% showing E. coli bacteria.