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Common Sense 101: Don't Leave Food in Hot Cars

A couple went to the grocery store in the middle of a hot and humid summer and left four bags full of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as some meat and chicken in their car for several hours. When they got home, they ate some of the food that they had left in the car and within 24 hours both of them and their three kids were all violently sick with food poisoning. After the event, the couple realized that leaving food in hot cars and then consuming it is not a good idea.

Tom Hebron is a nutritionist and food safety expert located in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is also amazed when people leave food in their cars for an extended period of time. It seems like common sense, but maybe people don't realize that hot temperatures mean all that food you just bought at the market is basically a ticking time bomb full of seriously harmful bacteria growth.

Before you start accusing us at Fix Auto San Francisco SOMA of being the food safety police or the health inspector in San Francisco, CA, consider this my friends-- you've obviously never stored groceries in a metal box that's out in the summer sun, correct? But when you put your groceries in your vehicle for any extended period of time, that's precisely what you're doing. On hot, humid and sunny days, the temperature inside your vehicle can soar up to as high as 172 degrees, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's obviously not an ideal environment for stuff like meat, cheese, milk, fish, chicken, or anything perishable.

One easy fix to alleviate the high temperatures on your food is to open up your windows or crank up the air conditioning for a few minutes right before you exit the car. It will delay the inevitable for a short time, but soon once more the interior of your car still be more than warm enough for bacteria and other things to make your food potentially sick.

So, unless you want to use your car as a rudimentary oven to slowly bake a cake or heat up some leftovers, keep food out of your vehicle as a rule. Food is for eating and cars are for driving, so keep them separate and you will avoid getting sick or having to dispose of food you recently purchased. This little piece of common sense will keep you happy and healthy until you get home and put your food where it belongs--in your refrigerator or cupboards!

Sources: CDC, Dept. Of Health and YouTube


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