Reusable grocery totes are good for the environment, but they can spread norovirus, the most common cause of food poisoning.

A recent report in “The Journal of Infectious Diseases” described how an open topped reusable grocery bag full of snacks stored in the hotel bathroom of a young woman with the norovirus ultimately led to illness in 21 team members and chaperones.

The sick girl and her chaperone returned home but left the snack bag behind. There was no direct contact between any of the other girls or chaperones and the sick girl.

They got the virus from the bag and food from the bag. Two weeks after the first girl got sick, researchers could still find norovirus in the reusable bag.

What can you do to reduce your risk of food poisoning from reusable grocery totes?

1. Frequently wash your totes

2. Bag meat, poultry, and fish in separate plastic bags before placing them in the tote to avoid contamination

3. Keep fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry, and fish in separate totes from produce and ready-to-eat foods

4. Clean all areas, like kitchen counters, where you placed your totes

5. Store totes in a clean dry location, and avoid storing them in the trunk of your car.