L.A.'s bag ban takes some adjustments

Research by the University of Pennsylvania found a surge in emergency room visits and a 46% increase — from 12 to 17 — in deaths from food-borne illness the year after San Francisco banned throwaway bags.

A separate survey of bags being used by Californians found more than half were tainted with harmful bacteria and 8% contaminated with E. coli.

The experts say that we will be fine if we designate specific bags for meat or fish, and wash those bags after every shopping trip. Other bags should be regularly cleaned in the washer or soaked in hot, soapy water with vinegar or lemon juice.

Add that to your list of shopping chores: Unload your groceries, then run a bath for your bags.

That's more work than I bargained for. Count me among the 97% of shoppers who admit that they have never scrubbed their bags.

We lose even more safety points when we store our bags in hot, stuffy cars, where bacteria can multiply. But of course, if we don't carry them in the car, we wind up bagless in the grocery store line.

I'm not complaining. The plastic bag ban is a worthy change. I just can't imagine living without them.

That's why I began hoarding them months ago, before the ban made them verboten. Now I have dozens crammed inside my cabinets in case I need them.

The good news is that they are not polluting the ocean. The bad news is that I can't open my pantry without plastic bags raining down on me.

sandy.banks@latimes.com

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