San Francisco’s plastic bag ban just might kill you

Now that San Franciscans have shown the rest of the country how very civilized and morally superior they are compared to the rest of us by enacting a plastic bag ban, people are getting sicker and, in some cases, even dying.

In September, Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson’s decision upholding San Francisco’s ordinance banning plastic bags for most retail establishments was praised by most.

“I applaud Judge Jackson for her careful consideration of the issues, and for rejecting arguments by plastic bag manufacturers that clearly misapplied state law,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, according to the Huffington Post.

Apparently, Jackson’s “consideration of the issues” wasn’t “careful” enough. Although she may have correctly applied California state law, she failed to take the “law of unintended consequences” into account.

Raise the minimum wage, and a college student can’t find that summer job. Declare a tiny fish called a Snail Darter an endangered species, and the fertile central California farmland turns to desert. Subsidize the production of ethanol, and the price of corn and corn-fed beef skyrockets.
So it goes with plastic bags.

Nowadays, the oh-so environmentally-astute San Franciscans are using their fancy-smanchy reusable bags whenever they run to the local super market to purchase their meat, fish, poultry and produce.

Health professionals are finding that those same bags have turned into little petri dishes, becoming the breeding ground for bacteria — both good and bad — which is in turn added to next week’s grocery purchase, and the one after that, and so on and so forth.

Ramesh Ponnuru, writing for Bloomberg.com, related an incident where “a reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team.”

That wasn’t an isolated incident. Ponnuru reported that in a 2011 study:

four researchers examined reusable bags in California and Arizona and found that 51 percent of them contained coliform bacteria. The problem appears to be the habits of the reusers. Seventy-five percent said they keep meat and vegetables in the same bag. When bags were stored in hot car trunks for two hours, the bacteria grew tenfold.

The same report indicates a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses, including salmonella, or 5.5 more of them each year.

The good news for those who use reusable grocery bags is that 99.9 percent of the bacteria can be killed by simply laundering them. The bad news is that only three percent bother.

One of the most memorable lines in “Body Heat” was when arsonist Teddy, played by Mickey Rourke, gives this advice to Ned (Willam Hurt) on committing crime: “Any time you try a decent crime, you got fifty ways you’re gonna f**k up. If you think of twenty-five of them, then you’re a genius… and you ain’t no genius.”

The same can be said of lawmakers at every level.

Read more at Bloomberg.com.

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About Michael Dorstewitz

Mike has been with BizPac Review almost from the beginning. Email Mike at michael@bizpacreview and follow him on Twitter at @MikeBPR.

  • Jennifer Sant'A

    Correlation does not imply causation. Plus, when these bans are implemented, stores, local governments and NGO's hand out thousands of free, reusable bags. The reusable bags being used in those first few months are probably the cleanest bags ever. Also, who is to say that ANY of those people hospitalized or those who died even used a reusable bag??  Paper bags were (and still are) still available. The numbers in the study are really, really small – they could have all gotten sick due to one outbreak, from spinach or lettuce or some bad chicken.

    I'm not buying the reusable bag connection to illness. Plastic bags are banned, and have been, all over the world – in Bangladesh, in many African nations, in over 50 cities in CA alone, Delhi, etc. Ireland and DC have plastic bag fees, which have greatly increased the number of people using reusable bags. Believe me, we are not all dying of foodborne illness.

    Also, It is a good idea to always, always wash your produce. There is more than just potentially bacteria on that produce, there are also herbicides and pesticides.

    • http://Facebook Richard Crouch

      Jen, my son gave me one of the reusable bags, it felt like someone spilled olive oil in it, so i washed it, still greasy, so i threw it away. that is why when and if you spill something or if the meat or chicken spills on the bag, you throw it away, what part don't you understand? you don't keep using it over and over, just because it is the right thing to do. you look like a shoplifter, when you come in with your own bags, or you get checked to make sure you have a receipt, before they let you out the door. you walk

    • louis klar

      be careful of second guessing and speculation. Very very dangerous

  • http://Facebook Richard Crouch

    This would be really hard in Florida, i sell at the flea market here, what am i supposed to do, not make a sale, because i don't have any plastic bags, to give the people, or give them a nasty reusable bag, they are not free, then i guess i will have to charge them $ 2.00 one for the bag, and one for obomacare, or when he screws me out of my Tricare, because he wants to make me pay $ 2,000 a year for it, plus screw me on my prescription, co pays,, if they do it here i am moving to 'Georgia', they are already trying to turn our State, into a police State, like California.

  • Patriot1742

    This is nothing but the politically correct makes a HA of themselves – paper sacks are far more polluting than plastic – but everyone thinks plastic is worse – it is not. The people who do not know better than to put something into a bag that contained raw meats, eggs or other raw products need to be schooled better – but like I said it is all PC.

  • Bob A

    Environmental wacos causing bacterial infections! At least its the Californian idiots getting sick. LOL

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  • Joella

    Environmental wackos? So the plastic gyre floating into the ocean and plastics that NEVER bio-degrade mean nothing to you? We have opened a huge can of worms by using "disposable plastics", and we are beginning to pay for it. You can't just throw things "away", because honestly, there is no "away". The planet is one comprehensive land/water mass. It all comes back to you, whether it be plastic in your food or not being able to use the land anymore because of its degradation. But honestly, there not much point in trying to enlighten someone on the subject who probably has the education of an 8 year old, has three teeth, shops at Wal-Mart and eats at Monsatan's GMO food-like poisons. Please wake up and start to see beyond your own nose and your own little life. Peace.

  • Joella

    And may I remind you that this "contamination" by raw products would not be an issue if people ate vegan/vegetarian, and bought from local farmers!