To most of us, limiting the waste associated with rampant plastic bag use seems like common sense, especially with the proliferation of handy-dandy reusable tote bags to take their place on grocery runs. And when we first saw a story on Fox Nation entitled 'San Francisco's Plastic Bag Ban Kills 5 People a Year', we were ready for some classic Fox News spin on self-involved West Coast liberals ruining the planet.

But as Ramesh Ponnuru, the "pro-plastic pro-people" author of this Bloomberg View article rather gleefully points out, there's actually is a study that shows the San Francisco ban could result in a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses, or 5.5 more of them each year. The study, conducted by two law professors, concluded that a spike in emergency room visits due to food-borne illnesses following S.F.'s plastic bag ban was due to harmful bacteria in reusable grocery bags, and that the ban was also at fault in increases in salmonella and other bacterial infections.

The study cites another 2011 study which found coliform bacteria in 51 percent of the bags tested, and E. coli in 8 percent of the bags examined. The study also found that most people did not use separate bags for meats and vegetables and that 97 percent of individuals said they never washed their reusable grocery bags. Which? Guilty as charged.

Sure, the tendency might be to give the stink-eye to any lawyery sentence starting with the phrase "using standard estimates of the statistical value of life", and this 5.5 deaths/year number may sound like a bizzaro conservative scare tactic. And a simple "wash your tote bags" would be more effective than using this angle to throw shade on the entire plastic bag ban initiative. But maybe we should nip this particular argument in the bud and just throw our reusable totes bags in the laundry once in a while.