What is in this article?:
“Interestingly, retailers do very little to educate consumers about the possible cross-contamination dangers associated with using reusable bags and bottles.”
— Justin Hiller, VP, Hiller’s Markets
How Retailers Can Help
Retailers can take several steps to prevent their customers from becoming sick from bags or bottles they purchase at their stores. They can make sure reusable totes and bottles have hygiene instructions printed directly on them. Select bags could be printed with the words “meat” or “produce” to help people keep track of which products go where.
“The best place to put messages about how to avoid foodborne illness is on the bag or bottle, but supermarkets could also print out a short list of do’s and don’ts to have cashiers slip into shoppers’ bags as they check out,” Wisner said. “A brief, simple educational campaign complete with printed totes, maintenance checklist and at-the-checkout signage would do the trick.”
In support of such a campaign, supermarkets should have reusable bags and bottles displayed near the checkout. A meat manager or other store employee could also hold in-store reusable container maintenance demonstrations to further educate shoppers, he added.
“I certainly think exposing customers to any news that could be perceived as harmful or dangerous to their well-being could cause them to change their shopping patterns or habits,” said Eric Anderson, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Findlay, Ohio-based Fresh Encounter. “Rather than trying to educate consumers on the benefits or dangers associated with the use of reusable totes post purchase, tagging totes with proper care instructions addresses many of those issues at the time of purchase.”
Tim Cummiskey, grocery manager for Highland Park Market, an upscale supermarket chain based in Glastonbury, Conn., agrees.
“Our baggers have been trained to bag meats, cleaning products, produce and other products separately to avoid cross-contamination, so we are doing our part to keep our customers safe,” he said, adding that retailers can only do so much.
“We can’t tell which bags were used for what products the last time they were here,” he said. “That is up to the shopper to keep track of and they have to keep up with regular sanitizing schedules too.”