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Why You Should Stop Leaving Your Groceries In A Hot Car

To get the best deals when you're grocery shopping, you sometimes have to hit up a few different stores to get what you need! Or, maybe you're one of those people who gets some items at one store, and heads to another store for other stuff. For example, Trader Joe's is awesome for snacks, but maybe you get your meats or veggies at a larger grocery chain.

The problem is, no one wants to make several trips during the week, right? So we take a few hours out of one day and get it all done. That can mean several stops at different stores. But during the summer months, when you have groceries from different stores sitting in your car while you make more stops, it can be a recipe for disaster.

We're right in the thick of the hottest point in the summer, and temps have reached record highs all over the country. It's no big deal to stuff your trunk full of groceries and then head home. But if you're making more than one stop, leaving groceries in your hot car for too long can get dangerous.

On a hot day, the temperature inside your car can soar to 172 degrees Fahrenheit. Food left in the car when it gets that hot can turn into the perfect breeding ground for some nasty bacteria.

groceries in the car
Credit: iStock / Lengar79

As a general rule, you shouldn't leave raw meat or other perishables outside in warm temps for longer than two hours. Any longer than that, and you run the risk of contracting food poisoning from spoiled food.

Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture suggest refrigerating perishable food within an hour after leaving the store. That lowers the risk of the food temps rising to unsafe levels, which is when bacteria starts to grow.

But don't worry! There are definitely steps you can take to get all your shopping done and keep your purchases safe! Try to get all your dry goods first, and save the perishables for the last stop. If you do have food in your car and need to make another trip, park in a shady area to keep temps down.

But most importantly, purchase a couple insulated shopping bags, and put ice packs in them before you leave on your shopping trip. Keep your cold perishables in the insulated bags to keep them nice and cool until you're home and ready to unload the car!

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