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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Norovirus Linked to Reusable Grocery Bags

Screen Shot 2012-05-09 at 5.03.54 PM.pngThe city that I live in just banned “will that be paper or plastic” from our local grocery store. I wonder how the eco-friendly city fathers and mothers are feeling after this AP article:

Oregon investigators have traced an outbreak of norovirus to a reusable grocery bag that members of a Beaverton girls’ soccer team passed around when they shared cookies. The soccer team of 13- and 14-year-olds traveled to Seattle for a weekend tournament in October 2010. At the tournament, one girl got sick on Saturday and spent six hours in a chaperone’s bathroom. Symptoms of the bug, often called “stomach flu,” include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. The chaperone took the girl back to Oregon. On Sunday, team members had lunch in a hotel room, passing around the bag and eating cookies it held. On Monday, six girls got sick. Oregon scientists determined they had picked up the norovirus from the grocery bag.

Norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths a year in the United States.

See full artilce in Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 205, Issue 11, Pp. 1639-1641 by Kimberly K. Repp and William E. Keene – “A Point-Source Norovirus Outbreak Caused by Exposure to Fomites.

  • Rebecca

    It hasn’t been linked to “grocery bagS”, has it? Just to ONE particular bag. Which could have been any type of container. Why the slur on all reusuable grocery bags? And was this just now discovered, a year and a half after the event?

  • Theresa Kentner

    I have to say *I* believe the bigger culprit is the bag being in the bathroom while someone was vomiting and had diarrhea.

    Plastic grocery bags would have conveyed the norovirus just as easily—there just wouldn’t be the evidence.

  • Bethany

    By shunning convenient plastic bags the average shopper avoids a whopping total of what, maybe 1/4 pound of plastic in the course of a year? The same trendy shopper probably tosses away several times that amount in fashionable kitchen doodads that have gone out of style. No one is exactly saving the planet with these faddish cloth shopping bags. And they do get pretty grubby. I’ve seen people stuffing food into some filthy stained cloth sacks disgusting enough to trigger the gag reflex. Those bags got that way by carting around grubby farmers market stuff — root vegetables with dirt and manure smeared over them, over-ripe tomatoes and fruit with liquids oozing, poultry in nasty ice wrapped in nothing more than a few paper towels. There is a lot to be said for common sense hygiene and modern disposable packaging.