Plastics Industry: Reusable Bags Are Bacteria Traps That Will Kill You And Your Family

Those green reusable bags that are all the rage? The plastics industry this week released a study concluding that they are nothing more than bacterial totes, which might be scary if it were true. BarfBlog looked at the study’s methodology and then ate through its main points.

To reach their conclusion, the plastics industry studied 25 bags, which is like, five times more than we have sitting in our pantry. They found that 64% of the bags had some form of bacteria, and that 30% had bacteria counts higher than we’d accept in our drinking water.

Um, yeah except that coliform isn’t an indicator of really anything in a shopping bag. It’s a great indicator of water quality, but not great for food (coliforms are all over the place, including on produce). And mean relatively nothing.

The lack of real data is probably why it was reported in CFU/ml (a water measurement — pretty hard to tell what a ml of a shopping bag represents). The most telling data was that no generic E. coli or Salmonella was found.

Not the best methodology design. Or reporting of results.

Keep your reusable bags dry and give them a good wash every couple of weeks and you won’t be devoured by bacteria as the plastics industry laughs in glee.

Are reusable bags really a food safety concern? [BarfBlog]
(Photo: tarale)

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  1. Jonbo298 says:

    Because tossing plastic bags all the time is so much safer in the end for us all…

    • sleze69 says:

      @Jonbo298: I love the plastic bags. I reuse them for bringing lunch to work and picking up dog poop in my back yard. Paying for a bag at a supermarket to pack the stuff you just bought from them seems like a scam to me.

      • WorldHarmony says:

        @sleze69: I love my non-plastic bags. I take them to grocery stores and farmer’s markets. They’re great for other stores and for libraries as well. I don’t need half the plastic grocery bags the stores hand out. Makes better sense to reuse my cloth and “green” bags. They only cost $1 (I’ve seen some priced at $2) and are well worth it.

      • Amish Undercover says:

        @sleze69: If you didn’t use those bags for picking up poop or lunch, you could use those bags again for their original purpose. Why should the store pay to supply you with poop and lunch bags?

        • sleze69 says:

          @statgrad: I guess it is similar to the outrage people felt when airlines started charging for food and beverages on flights. Why start charging for something that was always included in the price?

          Clearly, supermarkets are being as “green” as hotels that don’t clean sheets to save “water.” If it didn’t save them money, they wouldn’t do it.

          • nakedscience says:

            @sleze69: Lots of places will either allow you to bring in your own bags (which pays for itself after the first trip) or they charge you 5 cents per plastic bag. Reasonable. Especially since they have to pay for the bags.

  2. witeowl says:

    I don’t know how people survived in the recent decades of grocery shopping without disposable plastic or paper bags. Maybe they did it the same way people around the world continue to do it now. Who knows?

  3. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    Common sense tells you to wash the bags here and there. Heck, hang them up and spray lysol on them or use a different color bag for your meats. I don’t see the big deal on this, many people recycle their plastic grocery bags to use later for garbage bags in the bathroom or car. (like me) Reusable bags get spilled on the same way and they fester for 2 weeks under someone’s sink or in a cabinet…

    You could always ask if they can wrap your chicken/meats in a plastic bag BEFORE putting them into the reusable one if you are worried about leakage.

  4. stevejust says:

    I just conducted a culture study of my particularly bad morning breath, and discovered I have bacteria in my mouth!!!

    Oh NOES!!!!!!

    (I will brush my teeth now.)

    • shanerz says:

      @stevejust: you know, a little whiskey will do the same thing!

      What’s with all this hyper germophobia anyway?! I mean, be safe, but come on, a little bug isn’t always bad.

    • CapitalC says:

      @stevejust: OH NOES! Your toothbrush is also a haven for bacterial build-up. THE ENDLESS CYCLE WILL DESTROY US ALL!

  5. The Cheat says:

    I didn’t think Colorforms stuck to those bags?

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @jcostantino: No, not colorforms. Chloroform.

      • regenerator says:

        @MooseOfReason: @jcostantino: No, not colorforms or chloroform; coliform. As in fecal coliform bacteria, which is everywhere and unavoidable. And generally not deadly. ;)

        • so_gracefully says:

          @SarahC83: No, not Colorforms or chloroform or coliform. Cauliflower!

        • Anonymous says:

          @SarahC83:
          While coliforms may be wide-spread, I hope that fecal coliforms aren’t! Those are coliforms which are commonly found in poop and which usually die fairly quickly once outside of the warm host animal/human. There are also the more dangerous, including the deadly version of E. coli (which is where the term coliform comes from BTW).

  6. AgentTuttle says:

    File this with:
    -Cigarettes are good for you
    -A Nigerian Prince has $10,000,000 for you
    -Gays are trying to destroy marriage
    -Easter bunny
    -You were randomly selected for the lottery
    -“Virgin” Mary (and her image in food items)
    -Your car warranty is about to expire
    -Anything Cheney has ever said

  7. erikislame says:

    I’m still in the camp where I just don’t care what the plastic bags do to the environment–they’re more convenient and I’m pretty damn lazy.

    • henwy says:

      @erikislame:

      Me neither. Screw the planet. It’s unlikely to completely fall apart before I die anyway and I’m pretty sure I won’t give a flying frak afterwards.

    • Robobot says:

      @erikislame: I dunno what grocery stores you shop at, but anything heavier than a few bananas tears through the plastic bags all my area grocery stores provide. Even double bagging is iffy because the handles still break off by the time you’re halfway home. I’d rather bring my own bags and risk looking like a hipster/designer hippie than chase cans down the aisle of the bus all the way home!

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @Robobot: Reusable bags are definitely a must if you have to walk or take the bus home from the store. The plastic bag handles hurt WAY more when they’re heavy. Plus, the reusable bags are bigger and fewer bags are easier to manage.

    • JamieSueAustin says:

      @erikislame: Planet be damed, I’m a lazy ass too. I use the re-usables because they are stronger so I don’t have to double and triple bag only to end up carrying the milk manually, create less trash for me to throw away later, and I can carry ALL my groceries in one trip from the car because they hold so much. And my grocery store discounts the bill for me using them. It’s so much easier to use a big, strong, bag with real handles to carry heavy stuff. I also tote my library books around in them and any crap that has to go from one person’s house to the next (they are a life saver during the holidays.)

    • bbagdan says:

      @erikislame:

      Why don’t you watch some videos of sea turtles choking on plastic bags, you fucking loser.

    • wheresmymind says:

      @erikislame: I’m surprised the “plastic industry” is so worried about this. How much does a plastic bag weigh, a few grams? I’m thinking that when you leave the store with plastic bags laden with groceries, the amount of plastic in the bags is minuscule compared to the plastic in the packaging of the food.

  8. MikeGrenade says:

    What about the reusable bags made from recycled plastic? Huh, plastic industry? Will those kill you too?

    • amandakerik says:

      @MikeGrenade: Even faster – the bags are more porous and such.

      You know as well as I do that they’re doing this b/c recycling cuts into their profits / demand for their crap.

  9. bohemian says:

    At one grocery they always ask if you want your meat in a plastic bag before going in the reusable bag. They do this in the throw away bags also so your meat doesn’t leak on other items. They also pack the meat together in one bag. The other grocery does the same thing. Since I buy most of our meat there the reusable bag only contains meat. I rarely buy anything else there, they have a rockin meat counter.

    I love reusable bags. They are easier to carry, hold more and distribute the load of items much better. I also don’t have a mountain of plastic bags breeding in my garage. If there was a bacteria issue I would just make canvas versions of the current store brand reusables and toss them in the wash every so often. I am not going back to plastic throw away bags. The bag industry needs to deal with the changing world rather than living in denial.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      @bohemian: I take it you’ve had the reusable bags for a while (IE more than 2 years or so) and that a critical mass of the populace uses them regularly enough to make a difference (in cashier awareness).

      Unfortunately, at least here in Nashville, TN it seems the norm to present your reusable bags, verbally inform the checker of their presence, and yet they proceed to bag everything in plastic anyway. When you succeed in stopping them, they usually do one of two things, load your reusable bags with the plastic bags already full of groceries, or remove the items from the bags and then throw the plastic bags away.

      • HeyBickley says:

        @mianne: As a new cashier (in DFW, Texas), I’ve had more than a few people come up with their cloth bags, but neglect to point them out to me and then get frustrated at ME in the end when I’ve already bagged everything.

        I even had one lady go through a ridiculously complicated payment process, and just when I thought I was done with her, she gasped and grabbed a stack of her cloth bags she had forgotten in the cart, and she proceeds to UNBAG EVERYTHING and REBAG THEM in the cloth bags, holding up everyone in my aisle.

        Urgh. Sorry. I’m all for saving the planet, but please present them to the cashiers at the beginning and be willing to help us speed up the bagging process. They take longer to fill and require more Tetris-like planning.

        And yes, wash them. That seems a no-brainer.

        • bohemian says:

          @HeyBickley: Take bags out of cart FIRST. Place them first in line on the conveyor in front of your groceries. Then the checker sees them first and knows you want to have things bagged in reusable bags. It also prevents you from being distracted while you are unloading your cart and might forget them until your groceries are already half bagged.

          • HogwartsAlum says:

            @bohemian:

            I did this at Walmart today and the checker put them by the register and began bagging in plastic.

            She was nice though. When I pointed it out to her, she said, “Oh my goodness! I’m sorry!” and rebagged everything.

            It was probably partly my fault, because I was chatting with her about the spoiled kitteh I was buying food for.

            • bibliophibian says:

              My mother got in a tussle with the cashier at the store where she (my mother) herself is an employee. She’d bought the store brand reusable bag some weeks prior, and when she presented it to bag up that day’s purchases, the cashier charged her for it again. When my mother pointed out that she already *owned* the bag, had paid for it several weeks ago, the cashier said she needed to see the receipt, otherwise she had no choice but to ring it up.

              The manager was called over in short order and because my mom’s an employee and they know that she’s honest as the day is long, it was cleared up fairly quickly. Makes me wonder, though, how many people got/are getting/would get charged repeatedly for their “green-ness” if they didn’t notice the (usually very minimal) repeat charge, or if they didn’t have the benefit of being someone known to the store manager.

              My mom went home and sewed a strip of ribbon to the side of the bag and then Sharpied her name on the ribbon. She said, “They might accuse me of writing my name on the bag in the store, but there’s no way they can accuse me of sewing on a ribbon and writing my name on THAT.”

          • carolynkline says:

            @bohemian: I try and have my at the beginning of the line, or on top of the food towards the beginning. I might add, too, to help speed things up if one carries the rest of their bags within one bag to take them all out for the cashier.

            One thing that might help jog a customer’s memory that they have their own bags is to ask the customer if they want paper or plastic. It’s jogged my memory a few times to quickly reach back in to my cart to remove the reusable bags.

            One thing I can’t figure out since I came to Texas years ago, …if there isn’t a worker who is available to bag groceries, how come the customer doesn’t take the initiative to do it themselves? Everyone gets through the line faster. I came from Nebraska where we had a store called SuperSaver where the customer always, always, always bagged their own groceries.

      • CFinWV says:

        @mianne: I had that trouble at first. Back when the stores started carrying the reusable bags I always had to stop the cashiers from using the disposable ones. Not so much any more around here, they seem pretty used to all the reusables coming through.

      • bohemian says:

        @mianne: It was a massive fight at first. I had non store brand canvas bags and nobody wanted to pack my purchases in them. They would look offended, toss them aside or BAG THEM IN A PLASTIC BAG. I was using the self checkout and a bagger walked by, saw my canvas bag at the end of the place you put your scanned groceries, put it in a plastic bag and walked off.

        What helped was buying reusable bags from that store. Either employees were more aware of the store reusables or were told specifically to bag in them. I also at one point sent an email to the corporate office and store manager about the hassle I was getting trying to use my own bags. Stores don’t want to be accused of not being “green” these days.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @mianne: It’s gotten better (at least where I shop) now that it’s actually accepted that shoppers will have their own bags but I still get the baggers that will overfill the thermal bags until you can’t close them.

        I can’t figure this out. I ask them at the beginning to put frozen items and meats in the thermal bags. They can see that there’s more than one thermal bag. But they’ll still stuff as much stuff in the thermal bag as possible instead of using both. If there isn’t enough cold stuff to fill it they’ll use other items.

        The bag is not really going to keep stuff cold if it’s open. Why do some of the baggers still insist on trying to thwart me?

      • WorldHarmony says:

        @mianne: It’s just a manner of training. Nothing new becomes a habit without effort. Stores need to train baggers differently, and customers need to point out their bags early on. It’ll take time but hopefully new procedures will make reusable bags second nature.

  10. Blueskylaw says:

    Is the plastics industry crying fire in a crowded movie theater?

  11. aftercancer says:

    Amazing, we’ve been using canvas bags for about 15 years now and we’re still alive. Someone get me a grant so I can study myself.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      @aftercancer: This study is useless considering the source. That’s like a study by Microsoft that shows the Ipod is a piece of garbage compared to the Zune.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        @dragonfire81: But, but… my iPod gave me leprosy!

      • HeyBickley says:

        @dragonfire81: They studied 25 whole bags! That’s only about 100x less than anything approaching statistically significant!

        • henwy says:

          @HeyBickley: You must not know a lot about statistical significance then.

        • Julia789 says:

          @HeyBickley: Agreed – the study is useless – biased. They probably “studied” 25 bags that they used themselves, and kicked around a lot and spilled unwrapped meat in before swabbing them.

          But seriously, the germs they found in this “study” are all over most surfaces to begin with. Swab a doorknob anywhere and you’ll find the same thing. Nothing dangerous here. People just need to follow common sense – wash your hands before you eat, wash them after you use the toilet, and try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

  12. rubyfrog says:

    That article is pretty lame. It looks like the dude who wrote it happened to know what “coliform” was and figured he’d take a shot at the study. The study is obviously garbage however as it didn’t even bother to give a list of the “bacteria” it found (at least not in TFA) or in what quantities. I always loved the use of the term “bacteria” by disinfectant manufacturers… as if the presence of bacteria = death. Millions of bacteria are all over your hands, coffee cup, pencil, food, and yes, inside both your plastic grocery bag and re-usable bag.

  13. P_Smith says:

    Does this mean I have to buy a new shopping cart (the folding metal type) every time I buy groceries?

    • RogerTheAlien says:

      @P_Smith: Yes! You don’t do that already? And you have to alter the path you take to and from the store each time, because “dangerous” bacteria buildup occurs if you use the same street more than once. In fact, toss your shoes out too; Nike conducted a study and found that only THEIR shoes provide adequate protection against bacteria. So if you’re not wearing a pair, throw them out right now for the love of all that is holy!!!

      Dumbass plastics companies. Sheesh.

  14. Peng Xiao says:

    “To reach their conclusion, the ***plastics*** industry studied 25 bags.”

    So a competitor says these bags are bad? I call shenanigans.

  15. NoExpirationDate_GitEmSteveDave says:

    I have no doubt believing this. Just as plastic cutting boards are breeding grounds for bacteria, bags made of a woven recycled plastic would be more so. Of course, the chances of cross contamination between closed food stuffs is low. I always package my meats separately, down to the animal they come from. Beef in one bag, Chicken in one bag, Veal in one bag, Pork in one bag, Bacon in another, Ham in yet another. Even after eating tainted peanut butter, I’m still alive.

    • Jeff_McAwes0me says:

      @NoExpirationDate_GitEmSteveDave: Wait, why do you put the pork, bacon, and ham in separate bags? It’s all one animal!

    • wardawg says:

      @NoExpirationDate_GitEmSteveDave: Plastic cutting boards are breeding grounds for bacteria, but glass cutting boards murder your knives. It’s cheaper and more convenient to spring for antibacterial dish soap than it is to have to sharpen your knives every week.

      • kerry says:

        @wardawg: Antibacterial dish soap will be the end of us all. I’m only being a little hyperbolic there. If you want antibiotics to work down the road, avoid using them excessively, and that includes triclosan (the most common antibacterial agent in hand and dish soap).
        Use wooden cutting boards. They’re naturally antibacterial.
        Or, soak your plastic boards in a 10% bleach/water solution after cutting something iffy on them, like raw chicken.
        As Eyebrows mentioned above, sitting just about anything in the sun to dry will also do wonders in terms of reducing harmful bacteria, as the sun is nature’s most powerful disinfectant.

      • SnozberryLicker_GitEmSteveDave says:

        @wardawg: That’s why I use natural, safe wood. I oil it every so often, and when done using, spritz it w/some vinegar, and I’m still alive.

        @kerry: +1

    • fatcop says:

      @SnozberryLicker_GitEmSteveDave: MMMM bacon wrapped veal.

  16. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    @NoExpirationDate_GitEmSteveDave: Thanks. :) We’re all quite well and yes, tiny little eyebrows. But lots of hair on his head! So we have hopes that his eyebrows will grow in majestic. ;)

  17. Hawk07 says:

    I always thought those one-time use needles at hospitals were a waste.

    We can recycle those as well folks.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Hawk07: hehe, there’s a sore point for the diabetic community. until i went on an insulin pump i reused my insulin needles for at least three injections [after that the needle really is blunt enough to just plain hurt and i was injecting about ten times a day]
      loads of diabetics do this, their doctors know about and still give the spiel because they gotta. but it’s been in my body, not anywhere else, i put the cap back on [also a big no-no] and i put it back in a case in my purse. never got an infection from one. even when i slacked and didn’t prep the injection site with an alcohol swab.

  18. SarasiPolyxena says:

    This was actually the result of Ontario requiring retailers to start charging 5 cents/bag starting next month and the plastics industry scrambling. The tag shouldn’t be “Science Says” it should be “Plastastrophe” or “Misleading.”

  19. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Lab test results or it didn’t happen.

    Hmm, I would guess that disposable bag manufacturers are finally seeing a downturn in sales.

    Common sense would dictate that washing your reusable cloth bags would be in order, particularly if one happened to get drenched in raw meat juice. Otherwise, if the bags getting lethal levels of bacteria from the outside of food packages, we should all be wearing biohazard suits to the supermarket.

  20. PLATTWORX says:

    Any study can be shown to show anything and a study sponsored by an industry trying to show a “competitor” is harmfull is suspect at best.

    I am a big fan of commercial who say “some studies suggest…” Really? Some studies suggest George W. Bush was the best President we ever had too… doesn’t make it true.

  21. geargutz says:

    This study, questionable accuracy or not, is not going to keep me from using the reusable bags whenever possible. I spray them with Lysol and wash them if they get real funky. It’s better than having to worry about my groceries tearing through those plastic bags (because I pack heavy!).

    Even if there is bacteria in the bags, a little bacteria is not going to kill you. When I was little we used to play in the dirt, and drink from the garden hose on hot summer days. Builds the immune system I say…

  22. Omar Elizondo says:

    Nobody wants to have bacteria in their bags! But the word bacteria gets a bad image. You hear bacteria and freak out. But the truth is we need bacteria, hell we are bacteria. There are more bacterial cells on and in us than there is..well us!

    [www.sciencedaily.com]

    Unless the bacteria is truly harmful then this is rather dumb!

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Omar Elizondo: yep, we do need bacteria.
      i LIKE e.coli. that’s not sarcasm. synthetic insulin is made from it. e.coli waste [bacteria pee!] is close enough to insulin that a diabetic with an e.coli infection will have an increased resistance to insulin because the bacterial waste blocks the body’s insulin receptors.
      so in 1978 they messed with some e.coli DNA and got them to produce human type insulin.
      [www.diabeteswellbeing.com]

  23. bluewyvern says:

    Sounds like the study wasn’t very effective at proving that they’re dangerously germ-ridden. But they ARE often filthy. In my grocery-bagging days, my heart would sink when I saw the customers pull out their festering wad of stinky gray rags for me to fill with their groceries…they had clearly never, ever been washed, and I’d be holding them out at arm’s length between thumb and forefinger as I handled them, thinking, “You want to put FOOD in this?”

    The sturdy woven plastic totes were usually better, but do everyone a favor and don’t use fabric totes for your groceries! Save ‘em for your trips to the library.

  24. takes_so_little says:

    Also, a study from Pepsi: Coke breeds centipedes in your colon.

  25. italianscallion33 says:

    There is bacteria everywhere. Everything we buy is in a package unless it’s produce, which any smart person washes anyway. Big whoop.

  26. ironchef says:
  27. Repossessed_Posse_Pirate says:

    The reusable grocery bags in Europe are made of cloth and not polypropylene like they are here. I’ve bought a couple of the cloth bags while in Europe and use them here. They easily wash up in your WASHING MACHINE and are just as handy as the “green” bags. It would seem to me that if you really are a hard core tree hugging hippy freak, that a natural material like COTTON might be a better choice than recycled polypropylene.

    Plastic do much to make our lives better. They allow advances in fuel economy, medical devices, etc., but for a bag I don’t think you can go wrong with good old fashioned cotton pickin’ COTTON.

  28. morganlh85 says:

    Didn’t they claim the same BS about reusing water bottles?

  29. HogwartsAlum says:

    Most foods are packaged and those that aren’t, like fruits and veggies, you’re going to wash anyway. And just wash the bags every once in a while.

    The plastic bag people are just trying to scare ya.

  30. 1SQ says:

    I’ve been very happy with the cotton net bags from Ecobags. Because they are mesh, you can compact several of them into a small ball and pull them out as you need them. Also, there’s no way for moisture to build up inside the bag.

    The only drawback is that they can’t contain moisture, but most of your purchases aren’t going to leak anyways.

    • chocolate1234 says:

      @1SQ:

      I need to check those out. I have a few reusable bags, but I’m TERRIBLE about remembering to bring them. Maybe if I could just shove them into a ball and throw them in my purse, I’d actually use them for the intended purpose…

  31. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    If the bags get dirty then just imagine how disgusting the store shelves must be.

  32. Rob Mattheu says:

    Not me, I keep my reusable bags bacteria free by having them put my food in the disposable bags before putting them in the reusable ones.

  33. sassenach says:

    If true, consider how dangerous the nation’s handbags, brief cases and book bags are! More crap from the plastics industry.

  34. rinse says:

    Letting your cat poop and drag kitty litter in them probably doesn’t help with the bag’s sanitation, either…

  35. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i have a nice big reusable bag with wheels and a handle. i even got it from a thrift store.
    it’s hand washable. and a little drying in sunlight will do wonders for disinfection.
    but since all the food i buy is in a box or a can or a bag already, i don’t worry about it.
    if i buy meat i use the plastic bags at the butcher counter and if i buy produce i use the bags there.
    then the plastic meat and produce bags get to hold use kitty litter before leaving my life.

    i’m sure the complete ban on plastic bags in china and some US cities is really pinching the manufacturers’ pocketbooks, but too bad.

    a lot of places near me ask now, when i get just one or two items ‘do you need a bag?’ because it’s cheaper for them not to hand them out anyway.

  36. sponica says:

    the one thing i will admit plastic baggies are good for is picking up Fido’s, um, remnants. sure it’s prob not eco friendly to pick up #2 in a plastic bag and then throw the entire thing away, but I don’t have to touch it with my bare hands.
    the only reason my mom gets plastic bags when she shops is to line the bathroom garbage can AND so that kitty litter clumps/dog poo can be removed without too much gagging

  37. MightyCow says:

    The re-usable toilet industry would like to remind you that standard toilets get crapped in, and you’d be much better off if you throw them away after each use.

  38. negitoro says:

    Um.. even if there was bacteria in your bag, don’t most people wash or cook their food before they eat it anyway?

    I’d imagine eating the pesticides on my unwashed produce is more harmful than the bacteria from the bag.

  39. radiochief says:

    CFU/mL is not specifically a water measurement.

    Technically all bacteria counts are CFUs (Colony Forming Units). Whether it is CFU/g (gram product in diluent) or CFU/area (swab product per unit area) or CFU/ml (liquid product per volume).

    But a CFU/ml count can also be used to determine surface bacteria on an uneven area. I used to do plate counts on chicken parts where we would dump 100mL of PBS into a large ziplock-type bag put retail chicken pieces in… Shake and then plate them out. That what would give a C FU/ml count also.

    The confusion is that when you measure for some bacteria that can hurt someone like EC or ST you start by going a coliform count and then proceed to differentiation. These tests are usually done on items that are known to be contaminated by waste (ahem… fecal waste). Water testing on something that needs to be sterile, like teether water; is usually vacuum filtered with the filter transferred to an agar plates. But people in the lab will refer to the counts as CFU/mL (regular agar, total plate count) and as CFU/mL (Coliform Forming Units) on coliform agar (coliform count).

    If they really found EC (E coli) or ST (Salmonella), they’d speciate it with API strips or PCR. If they had found E coli, they might also report MPN (Most Probable Number).

    So, the CFU/mL count was derived from how they tested and what they may have tested for. And as far as the OP saying it means ‘relatively nothing’… I’d take a little issue with that. There’s an old rule of thumb in Microbiology– Gram(+)s out and Gram(-)s in.

    Gram(+)s are stuff like staph, strep, bacillus– thingsw you would find outside in a normal environment (dirt, surfaces, etc…). They are very hardy and some can even go dormant and sporulate waiting for the correct living conditions to come back.

    Gram(-)s are stuff like E coli, Sal, Shigella and etc… They are usually found in the gut and excrement of animals. It’s maybe great for water, but it is also useful for assessing the relative sanitary conditions of an area…

    So, just wash your reusable bags every so often.

  40. Pal says:

    Good god, do not put your cat in there!

  41. Alex Rat says:

    wow, so much eco-guilt in the air! like there haven’t been any bs studies on the other end of the argument. Gather around, fellow sheep, we’r about to move to the next great thing – reusable washable toilet paper. Meanwhile, we should stop buying all plastic-sealed items, too

  42. Urgleglurk says:

    Funny, the Europeans have used reusable shopping bags at least since WWII and they are doing fine.

    I suspect this is a spin and a slap at market loss to the green bags by the disposable plastic bag makers.

  43. Mecharine says:

    This is an industry sponsored study. Which means that there wasnt any actual research conducted. Most industry studies are outright falsifications, and no authoritative bodies ever take them seriously. These studies are used to scare people into buying shit, or whatever the “studies” are biased towards.

  44. RStui says:

    If I get enough of these cloriforms, will that make me a Jedi?