The great unwashed

By From page A4 | June 05, 2013

Whew! Missed it by three votes. The nanny-state-ocracy nearly bagged us again. Yes, The state Senate voted 18-17, which was three votes short of what was required, to ban plastic grocery bags.

Four senators did not vote, so look for this to come back to the Legislature again next year. This year the same senator who wants to take away the Boy Scouts’ tax exempt status because they won’t allow gay scoutmasters voted against the bag ban because it would have put 700 people out of work in his district. Make Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, an honorary Eagle Scout for his helpful, courteous, kind, cheerful, brave and clean vote against banning plastic bags.

The last adjective — clean — is the most important one. Reusable bags are breeding grounds for E. coli bacteria.

A 2010 study jointly researched by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University found consumers were “almost completely unaware of the need to regularly wash their bags,” according to Environmental Protection Website. The researchers randomly tested reusable grocery bags used by shoppers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tuscon, Ariz.

“Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coloform bacteria, including E. coli, which were detected in half the bags sampled,” said Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of Arizona environmental microbiology professor and co-author of the study.

He added that the bacteria levels found in reusable bags were substantial enough to cause serious health problems and even lead to death, with young children being in particular danger.

Southern California, with its longer warm season is at an even higher risk of bacteria breeding in reusable bags.

What do you get from E. coli? Try food poisoning. More accurately it should be termed self-food-poisoning.

Another study published in November 2012 by two researchers for the University of Pennsylvania Institute of Law and Economics found that since San Francisco banned plastic bags in 2007 there has been a “46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses.”

Actually, one can purchase a plastic bag for 10 cents in San Francisco. That sure makes Christmas shopping there extra fun.

Another way to breed E. coli real fast is to leave your reusable shopping bag in a hot car.

“When you have raw meat or unwashed fruits and vegetables, the germs on the food items themselves can cross-contaminate, can get on the bag,” health educator Rosemary Anthony told NBC L.A. last week.

Channel 7 in Denver tested “several reusable bags used by 7NEWS colleagues and another from a woman going into a Denver grocery store.” The tests were made in September 2010 by Dr. Michelle Barron, the infectious disease expert at the University of Colorado Hospital.

“Oh my goodness! This is definitely the highest count,” Barron commented while looking at the bacteria count numbers.

“She admitted she was shocked at what was found at the bottom of the bags,” the TV station reported on its Website.

“We’re talking in the million range of bacteria,” she said. The tests showed three bags with low bacteria counts, two moderate, two with bacteria counts from 330,000-1 million, and four with high yeast and mold counts.

Adding to the problem is that people will put these bags to other uses such as carrying books or gym clothes. Or use them as lunch bags.

With the bacteria counts found in reusable grocery bags, they could wind up being used as barf bags.

The latest failed bag ban was Senate Bill 405 by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles. “We have an opportunity to do right by Californians’ quality of life, our health and the impact on the environment, and be aggressive about how we transition to a cleaner economy in the future,” Padilla said.

What a bunch of gobbledygook meaningless buzzwords. No. 1, reusable bags would be deleterious to our “quality of life, our health.” No. 2, what the heck is a “cleaner economy?” Is that anything like a “green economy,” where California’s 9 percent unemployment would be solved by thousands of people being employed installing solar panels and windmills or building electric cars? Yes, give us a clean and green economy, whatever that is. But don’t take away the plastic bags that line our waste baskets, pick up our doggy droppings and carry our lunches to work. We don’t want your legislated E. Coli.

Mountain Democrat

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