We’ve all done it. We went grocery shopping before forgetting that we needed to make one more stop along the route. Or we did many errands and entirely forgot we had goods in the trunk by the time we returned home.
But at what temperature may food be left in a car and yet be salvageable? Or, if you were stuck in traffic and unable to prevent time from passing, how would your groceries fare in the car?
How long may groceries remain in a vehicle? If the temperature is below 40 degrees, the bulk of your goods (except frozen items) will be alright if left in the car (with the exception of perishables). However, after one hour of grocery shopping in the car, certain things may be at danger. Between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, foodstuffs should not be left in the car for more than 2 hours (1 hour if >90 degrees Fahrenheit).
How to Determine Whether Your Groceries Is Safe After Being Left in the Car
If you left your groceries in the car and then remembered to bring them inside, are they safe to consume? Well, maybe.
Your packaged and canned foods are OK. Depending on the weather outside, your refrigerated products may be acceptable. The same applies to frozen meals. How long they were in the car and the temperature would affect whether or not your items are still edible.
If you want to know if an item on your grocery list is still edible or drinkable, you’ll have to become a bit of a scientist.
1: Smell it
Trust your nose. Our noses are remarkable and can detect a variety of good and negative things. You can smell the smoke long before you can see the fire. Don’t try it if your nose tells you it’s not right.
2: Pour or crack it open
You are aware of how it should seem. When you open the package, you realize how it should be. You’ll notice if the coloration is incorrect. If anything appears strange, incorrect, off, or lumpy when it shouldn’t, you should generally avoid it. It will not be worth the stomachache or worse that will follow.
What Happens When Groceries Are Left in a Car Overnight?
If you left them in the car overnight, the temperature would need to be ideal. Which, if you have canned goods, cold goods, and frozen goods, will result in varied temperatures.
If you leave your groceries in your car overnight, there is a risk that one of them will spoil. Your frozen things must be stored at a different temperature than your cold items. Your cold products may be OK at one temperature, while your frozen ones may have thawed. If your frozen products are in good condition, your cold items may have ruptured.
There is no possibility that all of your groceries will remain undamaged if you leave them out overnight. Regardless of the temperature, something will be ruined.
Can Groceries Be Left in a Cold Car?
The goods can be left in a chilly car. If you just have cold items, they may be kept at one temperature. If they were just frozen, they can be stored at a different temperature. Additionally, leaving eggs or milk in the car should not be a problem.
If the temperature outdoors is 40 degrees or below, but above freezing, you can leave cold goods in your car overnight. When the temperature is about 0 degrees, frozen foods are safe to consume. If both are left in the car at these temperatures, one may not survive until the morning.
If the temperature drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and you have any form of liquid beverages, they will be in danger. Your cans might rupture. Your softer cold things, such as cheese, might begin to freeze. Anything made of glass would be susceptible to shattering.
If the temperature is around 40 degrees, your cold items will be alright. At that point, it would be like being in the refrigerator. However, then your frozen stuff would thaw. They wouldn’t necessarily spoil, but they would defrost.
Meats that had been previously frozen could not be refrozen. If you have consumed an item such as ice cream, proceed with caution. You may be able to refreeze it, but you must be careful not to spill it when transporting it inside.
What Happens If Groceries Are Left in a Hot Car?
Worst of all is leaving the goods in a hot car. Here, the majority of things will be at danger. The combination of high heat and fresh food does not work well.
You have a limited amount of time for perishable things to remain safe in warmer temperatures. Once temperatures above 40 degrees, harmful germs will begin to thrive on your refrigerated objects.
Within one hour, certain products may be at risk. You have barely two hours to place the items in the refrigerator. If it is 90 degrees or hotter, you have a maximum of one hour. Every 20 minutes after leaving the refrigerator, dangerous germs begin to proliferate on fresh food.
You cannot play with groceries in your vehicle. Now, packaged or canned goods will not be significantly affected. Fresh and frozen foods are susceptible to spoilage if they are exposed to excessive heat for too long.
How Can You Safeguard Your Groceries?
So we know that regardless of the weather, you cannot store groceries in your car for more than two hours. And that keeping them in the vehicle overnight would likely ruin one type of your foods.
However, there are a few things you can do to transport your goods securely if you become trapped in traffic or are delayed in getting home.
1. Use of Insulated bags
These are a tiny expense compared to the amount of perishable food that may be wasted. These will keep your cold and refrigerated things safe for extended durations.
2. Try to do your food shopping last.
If you have many things to perform and food shopping is one of them, plan to do it last. Your groceries cannot remain in the vehicle for so long. You do not wish to lose money.
3. When shopping, purchase cold products last.
Identical theory applies. I feel horrible for the goods whenever I watch folks carrying their frozen and chilly products to different parts of the shop. Who knows how long they have already been defrosted?
Maintain the safety of your food and your health by paying greater attention to when you purchase groceries and how much time you have to transport them home. Your stomach, pocketbook, and nose will be grateful.