Food Safety Tips for Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable shopping bags are a great way to cut down on plastic waste, but they do come with some food safety concerns. Knowing these risks and how to manage them can help keep your groceries safe.

Common Food Safety Risks

  1. Cross-Contamination: When reusable bags carry different items like raw meat, vegetables, and ready-to-eat foods, bacteria can spread between these items if the bags aren’t cleaned properly.
  2. Bacterial Growth: Leftover food particles in bags can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. These bacteria thrive in the warm, moist conditions often found inside unwashed bags.
  3. Mould and Spoilage: Moisture from leaking food items can promote mould growth, which can then contaminate fresh food placed in the bag.

How to Keep Reusable Bags Safe

  1. Regular Cleaning: Wash your bags after each use. Cloth bags can be put in the washing machine with hot water, while plastic-lined bags should be wiped with a disinfectant.
  2. Separate Bags for Different Foods: Use separate bags for raw meat, produce, and ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination. Label each bag to keep things clear.
  3. Dry Thoroughly: Make sure your bags are completely dry before storing them. Hang them up to air dry or use a dryer if the material is suitable.
  4. Inspect Regularly: Check for any damage, like holes or frayed seams, which can trap food particles and harbour bacteria. Replace any damaged bags.
  5. Use Insulated Bags for Perishables: For items that need to stay cold, use insulated bags and add ice packs if necessary.
  6. Educate Your Household: Make sure everyone in your household understands the importance of keeping reusable bags clean and follows these safety practices.


Reusable shopping bags help reduce plastic waste, but they need a bit of extra care to ensure food safety. By regularly cleaning your bags, separating different types of food, and storing them properly, you can use reusable bags without risking food borne illness. Following these simple tips will keep your groceries safe and your family healthy.