FSA tips on packing food safely when shopping

Last updated:
2 October 2015
Couple shopping
We're reminding people of our advice about packing food safely when shopping. This is because, from 5 October, a new law will require large shops in England to charge 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags. There is already a similar charge on single-use bags in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Raw foods (raw meat, raw fish, loose vegetables with soil on, and eggs) can contain germs that cause food poisoning. Packing any of these foods with ready-to-eat foods (eg bread, cooked meats and cheese) can lead to the germs spreading, especially if there are any spillages or leaks.

To keep you and your family safe, here’s our advice for packing food into bags when shopping:

  • Pack raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods, in separate bags. This could either be a plastic bag provided by the shop (there should be no charge for bags that only contain unwrapped food, goods contaminated by soil, raw meat and fish); or a reusable bag for life.
  • If you use bags for life, keep one or two for raw foods only and don’t use the same bags again for ready-to-eat foods.
  • Check your bags for spillages (for example raw meat juices or soil) after every use. If there has been any spillage, soiling or damage, plastic bags for life or single-use plastic carrier bags should ideally be disposed of. Cotton/fabric bags for life can be put in the washing machine.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have full details on the new charges: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/carrier-bags