'Gross - I would probably make them wash their mouths'

'Gross - I would probably make them wash their mouths'
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - When anyone thinks about thousands of colonies of bacteria, the last thing you would want to do is put it in your mouth.

For one Eagle mother, the thought makes her sick.

"Gross. I would probably make them wash their mouths," Heather Dement said.

Dement is passionate about the environment. She feeds her family organic food, juices her veggies and bypasses plastic for canvas or nylon reusable grocery bags.

The mother of three knows the kids are always watching and hopes they will pick up on her example. If they don't, she's afraid her children will pick up something downright dangerous lurking in those bags.

"I wash them. My thought was you know, when you buy meat. I am sure they have meat hands and they touch it and it gets inside of your bag."

What Dement refers to as "meat hands" can lead to a potentially deadly case of E-coli contamination. It's the reason Heather puts her groceries right into her freshly laundered bags.

KBOI accompanied Dement shopping, as she bought meat and fish, boxed pasta, eggs and a few vegetables. The food went from the shelves, to the bag, then through the checkout. Before packing up the groceries one last time, we called in microbiologist, Sandy Koch of Analytical Labs, to swab the bags for bacteria.

"Bacteria? All they need is moisture. That's why it's good to always launder and dry your bags," Koch explained as she took the samples.

KBOI waited to see what the kind of bacteria the food may have left behind on the bags. A week later, the results floored everyone.

"It is definitely is going to change the way I take care of those bags," Koch explained after showing KBOI the results.

We expected to see a high number of bacteria in the meat bag, but that's not what popped. The startling results showed more than 250,000 colonies of bacteria in the vegetable bag.

In that short period of shopping time, Dement's kale and leeks transferred thousands of bacteria into the freshly washed nylon bag.

"When you take a product that is highly contaminated, like your leafy vegetables like Kale, out it in your refrigerator next to other products you will spread bacteria to the other products," Koch said.

To put those results into perspective, the numbers for the other bags were significantly lower. Remember, our kale and leeks came with 250,000 colonies of bacteria.

The bag with the eggs and canvas bag with boxed food and toiletries both registered 50 colonies of bacteria. The meat bag, our biggest worry at the beginning, contained about 100 colonies. KBOI recognizes not all bacteria can make you sick, but the higher the number, the higher the chances.

"Ew, I am glad I wash my bags, and I am glad I wash my produce too. Ick," Dement said when she found out about the results.

The numbers surprised and disgusted Dement. She said she going keep washing her bags every time she uses them, and now will wash that produce as soon as she gets home.

"The bags are gross, but I again, think of the produce. I have a 5-year-old that likes to run around and grab apples. What does that have on it?"