Reusable Bag Scare Part II – (Still) Don’t Believe the Hype
An anti-bag ban study is getting a lot of attention on conservative news outlets, which appear to be very excited at the opportunity to bash both the City of San Francisco and good environmental policies. Let’s pile on, it’s so fun!
But maybe first, consider the facts? The claim that 51 percent of reusable bags contained E. coli bacteria ignores the well-known fact that most strains of E. coli are harmless. No deadly bacteria commonly found in food poisoning cases— including listeria and salmonella—were found in any of the sampled bags. Second, consider the source: the study was funded by an organization that fundamentally opposes government regulation to improve the environment.
As for the headline grabbing claim of fatalities, correlating increased emergency room visits and deaths from food poisoning with the onset of the bag ban is not enough to convince thinking people that reusable bags are deadly—especially since bags tested in other studies haven’t turned up any deadly bacteria. If we are going to have a conversation about mortality, remember that this material is known to kill at least 25 children a year, leading to widespread warning labels on bags and the advice from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to “keep plastic bags away from children.”
The study also focuses on the fact that 97 percent of people don’t wash their bags. Good reminder to do so, as we note here.