Whether you forgot a grocery bag in your car on a hot day or had restaurant leftovers sitting in your car for a few hours too long, we’ve all been there. But, just how sick can food that sat in a hot car make you? You may be surprised at how quickly your food can spoil depending on where you stored it and what the outside temperature was. We break it down below.
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Will Eating Food That Sat in a Hot Car Make Me Sick?
The largest factor in determining if your food is ok is the outside temperature. Unfortunately for food lovers, the inside of your car rapidly heats up to be much hotter than the outside air temperature causing food stored in a car to spoil quickly. A good general rule of thumb is to toss any perishable food that has been sitting in your car for longer than two hours – one hour if the inside of your vehicle was hotter than 90 degrees.
Drivers who live in climates with chilly winter weather may be able to get away with storing food for a longer time in their vehicle, if the outside air is cold enough to keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature for food storage.
If you need to store your groceries or some leftover food in your vehicle for a short time, where you store it is important. If you are trying to keep things cool, try and put the food on the ground where it can sit in the shade. Don’t store it in the trunk of your vehicle which can heat up even quicker than the inside of your vehicle’s cabin.
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If you have doubts about the safety of food that has been stored in your car, it’s best to just toss it.