Nearly two months into Laguna Beach's plastic grocery bag ban, we wanted to find out how it was doing and how retailers were dealing with the whole bring-your-own-reusable-bag-or-prepare-to-pay-ten-cents-per-paper-sack law (or B.Y.O.R.B.O.P.T.P.T.C.P.P.S. for short).
We ventured into all three major Laguna Beach grocery chains—what used to be Plastic Bag Central—but made the mistake of identifying ourselves as reporters to the Pavilions, Ralphs and Albertsons mucky-mucks, who summarily shooed us away after being told we had to call the corporate office if we wanted a quote. Sheesh!
But then we started seeing a study making its way 'round the Interwebs from the reputable-sounding University of Pennsylvania Institute for Law and Economics titled "Grocery Bag Bans and Foodborne Illness," authored by two guys named Jonathan Klick and Joshua D. Wright. The 24-page study—which you can read yourself right here, it's the PDF file in the photo box on this page—essentially says this:
REUSABLE GROCERY BAGS ARE GONNA KILL YOU!
Wait, what? Weren't those single-use plastic grocery bags the real evil-doer, since they get eaten by fish and cute little sea lions, and they're made from petroleum, and they just look really ugly when you see one washing up on Main Beach?
That's what we thought, but this study claims otherwise. Seems that when people use the reusable sacks, it increases the liklihood of foodborne illnesses like E. coli and other intestinal bacterial infections, since raw meat and raw meat juices can come into contact with other foods when you're lugging them home. The study even cites deaths that have allegedly occured to people who've used reusable bags.
Sure, washing the bags would seem to solve the problem, but hey, the study says, that's just using water that wouldn't need to be used if these infernal bag bans weren't on the books!
Patch contacted Chris Prelitz of Transition Laguna asking what he thought of the study, since his org was a major supporter of the Laguna Beach bag ban. His verdict: the study is flawed, big time.
"The study connecting reusable bags to foodborne illness has been harshly criticized by peers, as it was an industry requested and FUNDED report," Prelitz wrote us (caps his). "We all know, you get what you pay for."
"The authors, Wright and Klick, were bought and paid by the American Chemistry Council," Prelitz continues. "The very same trade group that represents plastic bag manufacturers, and the same group that wrote letters to City Managers threatening to sue any city that enacted a plastic bag ban."
Prelitz also rails against one of the study's key elements—statistics delving into San Francisco's plastic bag ban, which he says are from a time period before that city's ban even went into effect.
"It's always fun outing eco-bashers that spread misinformation and fear," Prelitz tells Patch. "We have some very real environmental and health challenges. We're living as if we have 4 planets to plunder from, and that can't go on much longer."
Take a gander at the study yourself. What do you think? Tell us in the comments below ...