Food Standards Agency warns about food poisoning risk associated with ‘bags for life’

The Food Standards Agency have sent out a stark warning to supermarket shoppers about the use of the now popular ‘bags for life’, saying that they pose a food poisoning risk.

Since the 5p carrier bag tax came into enforcement, customers have been taking steps to avoid the charge by purchasing more durable plastic or material bags to carry their shopping home in.

However, the Food Standards Agency have now warned that by bundling all of your shopping into one or two bags at the checkout actually poses a risk of food poisoning through food contamination as raw foods are mixed with ready-to-eat products.

Raw meat, fish, shellfish and even eggs all contain potentially harmful bacteria that if consumed can cause food poisoning. When these foods are packed into the same bags as other consumable products, shoppers run the risk of spreading the bacteria onto foods that can be eaten without cooking, and therefore may get contaminated with the potentially harmful germs.

And, it’s not just raw, uncooked meats and fish either. A recent Daily Telegraph investigation revealed that approximately 9 million packs of chicken are sold each year with a dangerous bacteria on the outside of the packet.

In order to avoid the risks posed by cross-contamination of food, the Food Standards Agency state that all raw foods should be properly separately wrapped before checkout.

Posting on their website, the Food Standards Agency also advised: ‘Ideally, you should have enough bags to carry raw foods, ready-to-eat foods and non-food items such as washing powder separately.’

‘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.’

‘If the bag doesn’t have a label, you could either colour code the bags (including by theme if the bag has a particular design) or mark on the bags to help you keep raw items separate.’

They also suggest washing material bags between uses.

Tell us what you think. Do you carry different long-life bags with you to pack food separately? Or do you try and pack your food shop into as few bags as possible? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.