0611ReusableBagssr.cfm Wash reusable cloth bags
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Wash reusable cloth bags

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By Cindy Williams

Meadowlark District Extension Agent

Reusable cloth bags are popular and something that most households have, but did you know that you need to take proper care of these reusable bags? While reusable cloth bags are convenient and help reduce the use of plastic bags, they also need proper care and cleaning to prevent the spread of disease.

A case of highly contagious norovirus caused foodborne illness in an Oregon soccer team in 2010. After investigation, it was found the illness was associated with a reusable cloth bag. The bag had been stored in a bathroom with a person who got sick. The bag contained fresh grapes, packaged cookies and packaged chips. The next day, the bag was taken to a lunch and the food was served.

The norovirus aerosolized from vomiting within the bathroom to the cloth bag. When people handled the bag, then handled food in the bag, the virus was spread from their hands to the food and ultimately consumed.

Therefore, store cloth bags for food use properly in a location where contamination is minimal. Frequently wash the bags. Simply washing reusable cloth bags between uses in the machine or by hand with soap and water is as effective as using bleach. Washing reduces bacteria by 99.9 percent.

Date: 10/15/2012



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