The UK’S Food Standards Agency (FSA) warns that using the same vessel to carry raw and ready-to-eat food and other household items can spread harmful bacteria and cause nasty stomach bugs.
According to the watchdog, deadly germs such as E coli and campylobacter can even be transferred from the outside of packaging when bags are reused.
“Ideally, you should have enough bags to carry raw foods, ready-to-eat foods and non-food items such as washing powder separately,” The FSA’s website states.
“Keep enough bags for life for raw foods only and don’t use the same bags again for ready-to-eat foods or for carrying other household items.”
It’s advised that reusable bags be colour-coded or labelled to avoid any mix-up.
And while plastic reusable bags should be replaced in the case of spillage, their fabric counterparts can simply be washed or cleaned.
“Even if there are no obvious spillages or staining after several uses, we would recommend that cotton/fabric bags for life be machine-washed regularly if they have been used for carrying raw items,” the FSA recommends.