Health Canada

Health Canada

October 02, 2013 10:00 ET

Information Update: Clean Bags and Bins Help Prevent Grocery Cross-Contamination

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 2, 2013) -


Health Canada is reminding Canadians to take steps to prevent cross-contamination of foods when shopping with reusable grocery bags and bins.

As an environmental choice, many Canadians are now shopping with reusable bins, plastic bags and cloth bags to reduce the amount of plastic they are using. Health Canada supports the use of these products, but it is important to use them safely to prevent cross-contamination of food with bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

Because these bags and bins are reused frequently, they can pick up bacteria from the foods they carry, or from their environment (the ground, the back and the trunk of your car, or the items stored in them between grocery trips).

It is estimated that there are approximately 4 million cases (1 in 8 Canadians) of food-related illness in Canada every year. Many of these cases could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

What you should do

Keep your bags and bins clean:

  • At home, clean and/or sanitize any areas, such as counters and tables, where you place your bags or bins.
  • Wash your reusable bags and bins frequently - especially after carrying fresh produce, meat, poultry or fish. If your bags are not machine washable, wash them by hand with hot soapy water. Plastic bins should be washed regularly using hot soapy water as well. Dry your grocery bags and bins after washing them.
  • If you store or carry non-food items in your grocery bags or bins, wash the bins and bags well before using them again for groceries.

Pack your groceries carefully:

  • Wrap fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry or fish in plastic bags (the clear bags found in most produce and meat sections work well). This will help prevent the juices from leaking and contaminating your reusable containers and other foods.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables should also be packed in plastic bags to help protect them from contamination - especially fresh produce that will not be cooked before eating.
  • Put fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry and fish in bins or bags separate from fresh produce and other ready-to-eat foods.

For more information

For more information on reusable grocery bags and bins and other food safety tips, please visit:

- Tips for Reusable Grocery Bags and Bins

- Video: Reusable Grocery Bags and Bins

- Government of Canada's Food Safety Portal

- Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education's Be Food Safe Canada Campaign

Stay connected with Health Canada, and receive the latest advisories and product recalls using social media tools.

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