How long can you keep groceries in your car before it’s unsafe

When it comes to loading your groceries into your car, you probably haven’t given too much thought to the sweat

When it comes to loading your groceries into your car, you probably haven’t given too much thought to the sweat box they are getting into — though you certainly don’t like the discomfort of a hot car — but hot temperatures can make all the food you purchase a wonderful environment for harmful bacteria.

During the summer months, on a sunny day, the temperature in your car can get up above 40C.

That’s not exactly the best place to keep your meat, fish, chicken or dairy.

Obviously the temperature will start to drop when you open the windows and crank up your air-conditioning, however your car can still be a bit warm and those awful bugs that can make you sick will still be able to thrive.

Read more: The foods most likely to be contaminated by plastic packaging

How long do you have before groceries spoil?

A couple of factors that will affect the time you have available before you food starts to turn include where you live and the weather on the day of your shop. Therefore, the best thing you can do is reduce the amount of time between when you place the groceries in your car and when you get them home and into the fridge or pantry. Read: don’t dawdle after you’ve done your groceries.

Consider running your errands — such as going to the bank or buying those last few Christmas presents — first. Make your groceries the last thing you do before heading home, just to be on the safe side.

Another way you can ensure your cold items don’t start to turn is by being methodical about your trip through the supermarket aisles. If you don’t already, consider leaving the cold items, such as meat and dairy, last as this will limit the amount of time they spend in your trolley.

Make use of those insulated shopping bags too, by packing the cold items into one of them.

Read more: Signs you might have food poisoning

What about in the car

The boot of your car can be one heck of a hot spot, so the recommendation is to place your groceries on the back seat of your car. If you use the air-conditioning on your way home you are allowing the cool air to circulate through your groceries.

If it sounds like an extreme measure, think of how bad a case of food poisoning would be — especially in the lead up all those festive celebrations.

Do you have a process for doing your shopping? Have you ever been concerned about the safety of your food in the car?

  1. Claire Hancock  

    I always take an esky with ice bricks in the car when I do the shopping in the warmer months. Then I simply pack the refrigerated and frozen grocery items straight into the esky in the car, then carry the esky into the house to unpack. No more half-thawed icecream, warm deli meats, etc.

  2. Eileen  

    Always take a ‘cooler bag’, with ‘ice-bricks’ in it.
    Have it in trolley, ready for frozen/refrigerated goods.
    Woolies’ cashier unpacks, scans, repacks.
    Then onto car’s back seat, home, & put away all within a very short time!

  3. Gert  

    Cold items go in an Esky but what do you do with a barbequed chicken? If you put it in the Esky, it would be OK if you wanted to eat it cold, but it wouldn’t be good for the frozen stuff nearby. If you want to keep it hot, it has to be kept fairly hot but how would you know if it is at a safe temperature? It’s a wonder there hasn’t been more food poisoning from hot chooks left in cars.

    • Wendi nichols  

      I’d probly just put the BBQ chicken in a “cooler” bag in its own no frezer packs

  4. one l always have a cooler bag with me 2 l also take 2 large frozen blocks when l got to the meat wholesalers, 3 l put my stuff in the cooler bag as l shop especially at Aldi only because they have limited checkouts open & only call for another attendant when the Que is over the horizon all my diary etc etc goes in the cooler bag , when l get to the car l will interchange ice blocks if needed , cheers & merry xmas all

  5. Russell Wild  

    My dog found an ancient hamburger behind the seat of a car I bought at auction. It made the dog sick. I’m not sure why, because I had a taste and it didn’t seem too bad.

    • Gloria  

      Lol Russell the burger was obviously a Macca so I can’t understand why your Wild dog was sick as I understand these burgs have a very, very long shelf life.

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