Shoplifting soars in Seattle grocery stores after ban on plastic bags as study finds spike in E. coli cases 'linked to filthy reusable totes'

By Daily Mail Reporter

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Seattle’s ban on plastic bags may be good for the planet, but some local store owners say it has proven catastrophic for their bottom line.

Mike Duke, who runs the Lake City Grocery Outlet grocery store, said that since the City Council unanimously passed the ban last July, he has lost at least $5,000 in shoplifted produce and between $3,000-$4,000 in swiped frozen food.

‘We’ve never lost that much before,’ Duke told KBOI News.

Unsettling trend: Supermarkets in Seattle have reported an increase in shoplifting incidents since the ban on plastic bags went into effect

Unsettling trend: Supermarkets in Seattle have reported an increase in shoplifting incidents since the ban on plastic bags went into effect, forcing customers to use reusable bags

Shoplifting central: Mike Duke, who runs the Lake City Grocery Outlet grocery store, said he has lost at least $5,000 in produce and between $3,000-$4,000 in swiped frozen food

Shoplifting central: Mike Duke, who runs the Lake City Grocery Outlet grocery store, said he has lost at least $5,000 in produce and between $3,000-$4,000 in swiped frozen food

Besides outlawing the use of plastic bags, businesses in Seattle are also required to charge a nickel for paper bags in order to encourage consumers to use the more environmentally friendly reusable bags.

But according to Duke, the 'green' canvas totes make it much harder for loss-prevention officers to detect what the customers have purchased and what they may have brought with them, which inevitably gives rise to shoplifting, SeattlePI.com reported.

 

According to data released in January by Seattle Public Utilities, more than 21 per cent of business owners surveyed said increased shoplifting because of the plastic bag ban has become a problem.

Eight per cent of the responders called shoplifting a 'big' problem, while about six per cent said it was a 'medium' or 'small' problem.

‘Across the United States we have seen these bag bans, and the shoplifting has always had a substantial leap,’ Jan Gee, president of the Washington Food Industry Association, said to KBOI, ‘and so it was not a surprise to us.’

Basket case: Duke said he has seen a jump in the number of hand baskets lifted from the supermarket to the tune of thousands of dollars

Basket case: Duke said he has seen a jump in the number of hand baskets lifted from the supermarket to the tune of thousands of dollars

However, results of another survey conducted by an environmental advocacy group that same month found the ban 'popular and successful,' and had no mention of a spike in shoplifting.

The Lake City grocery store operator said that another negative side effect of the plastic-bag ban is an increase in the number of hand baskets lifted from the supermarket to the tune of thousands of dollars.

Shoplifters would load up their baskets with groceries - both stolen and purchased - and walk out of the store, Duke said.

In a desperate bid to stop the rampant shoplifting, the owner attempted to get rid of the hand baskets, but his customers were not happy with the move.

But loss of revenue due to shoplifting is not the only problem that has been linked to the ban.

Silent but deadly: Scientists have seen a spike in the number of E. coli cases and terminal food-borne illnesses

Silent but deadly: Scientists have seen a spike in the number of E. coli cases and terminal food-borne illnesses

According to a study released last summer, the bag ban coincided with a jump in the number of E. coli cases and a spike in deaths caused by food-borne illnesses.

Another study published in 2011 found E. coli in eight per cent of all reusable bags from randomly selected individuals in California and Arizona stores.

Washing the bags eliminated nearly all of the harmful bacteria, but evidence presented in the paper suggested that not all consumers bother to do it.    

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Plastic bags are fine if you can reuse them at home for your garbage cans or for storing stuff. As long as there isn't nasty chicken juice or anything in them and as long as people aren't tossing them out their windows to have them blow around the neighborhood...which probably happens. What's the problem with using brown paper bags? They break down rather quickly if thrown in the environment. They use up trees, but most people recycle these days.

Click to rate     Rating   11

If one wishes to use a Plastic Bag in Seattle, at one time there was a promise that "someone" would be fined $250.00. Paper bags are almost useless here as it is always raining. and then: If one buys something like a bag of ice cubes, good luck in getting it home in a paper bag. The latest fad is to ban us from using plastic garbage sacks. The rats will love that. Jennifer G.

Click to rate     Rating   9

I wonder if someone could bring their own plastic bags. Would they be arrested if they did? Would another shopper be offended? The PC world is not an easy one to live in.

Click to rate     Rating   18

"People who want their own selfish convenience over the needs of the rest of the planet are going to be dinosaurs soon. The earth will shrug you lazy low lifes off and not let you back on until one eon you get a clue you are not the only ones on the planet that matter. Republican thinking = dinosaur. - Concerned Citizen, Seattle========newsflash, to your self righteous comment. You live on the same planet!

Click to rate     Rating   12

There is a simple answer - use the good old fashioned string bags! Pack away to nothing in your pocket, completely see through, made from natural materials and can be washed in a couple of minutes.

Click to rate     Rating   12

I use cotton carry bags and WASH them and dry them on the clothes line - then into the car for next time. Easy

Click to rate     Rating   5

Plastic bags are still better than paper or cloth ones.

Click to rate     Rating   13

People who want their own selfish convenience over the needs of the rest of the planet are going to be dinosaurs soon. The earth will shrug you lazy low lifes off and not let you back on until one eon you get a clue you are not the only ones on the planet that matter. Republican thinking = dinosaur. - Concerned Citizen , Seattle,---------- I bet you win all kinds of friends with that self righteous and condescending attitude. The the fact is people with attitudes like yours are a prime reason why many people, myself included want nothing to do with the green movement. The real shame of it is I bet you still see yourself as one of the good guys.

Click to rate     Rating   22

Its funny how things evolve to adopt items and processes that work best , most economically, most efficiently. Then along come enviro nuts and politicians who dictate whats "good" for earth and undo decades of progress only to find out that the rule of un intended consequences applies to the too! Dreaming fools.

Click to rate     Rating   22

I work in a grocery store. Some customers' reusable bags are clean and some are disgusting. Some customers bag as they shop and unload their items onto the conveyer belt. Some customers claim that some of the items in their bags are things that they forgot to unpack last time. Some customers hide items under their extra canvas bags in their carts. As for recycling plastic bags, that doesn't always work out so well. The bags are often dirty and smelly, so they have to be thrown away with the regular garbage.

Click to rate     Rating   25
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