Have you washed your reusable bags and containers recently? Or ever?
Since single-use plastic bags were banned in New Zealand in July 2019, most of us are using reusable bags and containers to do our grocery shopping.
But how clean are they? It’s really important to keep your bags clean to avoid spreading bacteria from one item (like raw chicken) to another (known as cross-contamination) if you want to avoid food poisoning – and let's be honest, everyone wants to avoid food poisoning.
Here are our top 10 tips to keep your bags and containers clean:
1. Wash your bags regularly
Washing your bags regularly reduces the risk of contamination. If you’re using fabric bags, throw them in the washing machine. If you’re using jute or plastic reusable bags or containers, wash them regularly with warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly.
2. Have dedicated bags
Make sure you have dedicated bags or containers that are used only for raw meat. This reduces the risk of cross-contamination with other food. Wash the bag or container with warm soapy water after every use. You can also have separate dedicated bags for fresh produce, dry goods and cleaning products.
3. Pack your groceries carefully
If you’re packing your groceries, make sure they’re packed carefully. Anything that may leak or spill, such as yoghurt, needs to be packed separately and not near anything sharp that could pierce the packaging.
4. Check for spills and leaks
When you’re unpacking your groceries, keep an eye out for any spills or leaks. If you spot any, clean them up straight away.
5. Groceries only
The bags and containers you use for groceries should only be used for that purpose. Don’t use them to transport other things such as swimming or sporting gear as this increases the risk of cross-contamination.
6. Food container safety
If you’re using a reusable food container for meat or deli food, check it’s in good shape. As well as washing and drying thoroughly after each use, ensure it doesn’t leak and that it has a good seal to avoid spills.
Image credit: 123rf
7. Chilly bags and bins
Chilly bags and bins packed with ice are a hygienic way to transport any chilled or frozen food, especially in the hot summer months. Give them a good rinse out afterwards and dry them in the sun if you can.
8. Don’t put them in the seat of the trolley
Keep your bags and containers away from the part of the trolley where toddlers and kids sit. This area may have a lot of bacteria.
9. Do your food shopping last
If you’re out and about, do your food shopping last and bring it straight home. Put the cold stuff in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home to avoid it spoiling.
10. Don’t leave bags or containers in the car
Don’t leave your bags and containers in the car. Cars can get really hot and bacteria love heat. Clean up any spills in the car ASAP to avoid nasty smells and stains.