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Cloth bags condemned as plastic strikes back

Industry research warns of bacteria in reusables
May 21, 2009

MOIRA WELSH
ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

The plastics industry is warning consumers that reusable fabric grocery bags can create a health risk because they can become contaminated with fungus and bacteria if not properly washed.

As the green movement against disposable plastics gains momentum, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association warns that it had 24 reusable bags tested at two laboratories and in many of them found mould, yeast and bacteria, including intestinal fecal bacteria.

"We were very surprised by these results," said association spokesperson Cathy Cirko. "We have health and safety concerns."

That is rubbish, said Toronto Councillor Gord Perks. "We live in a biological world where we have learned to cope – we wash things," he said.

As of June 1, Toronto will require grocery stores to charge a five-cent fee for each plastic grocery bag they dispense. However, many consumers are already using reusable bags or plastic grocery bins.

Cirko said fecal bacteria in the bags came from using them to carry diapers and gym shoes. The bags were in use for anywhere between one month and three years.

Heather Marshall, of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, called the study a "final desperate attempt to scare people from reusable bags."

With files from The Canadian Press

As pubslished at: http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/637368

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