As people ditch disposable plastic bags for reusable alternatives, there is one danger which so far hasn’t been considered – bacteria.

While reusable bags have helped to dramatically reduce the waste generated by the use of disposable plastic bags, it has also created environments where bacteria can thrive. Few people take the time to wash their reusable bags after they use them even though they are pretty much guaranteed to contain all sorts of harmful bacteria when food has been stored in them.

No matter what material a reusable bag is made from, when it comes into contact with food will pick up any bacteria that may be living on the surface. While everyone knows that raw meat carries bacteria, any type of food can do the same.

Recent news of contaminated salad bags is just one example of where food can end up causing an outbreak of Ecoli.

Where reusable bags are washable, it is worth doing so if only to avoid the possibility of an upset stomach or worse. Unwashed shopping bags can be every bit as bad as damp dish towel left hanging around for days or a washing up sponge that needs changing.

The alternative to washing your bag is of course to make sure food is clean and well-cooked before consuming it and that preparation surfaces are also wiped regularly with a clean cloth.