There are plenty of things that make running errands in warm weather really nice. Like, not feeling as if your face is going to freeze off while you hustle from your car to the store. And not having to worry about snow, ice, or sleet turning all the roads and parking lots into a complete mess.
One thing that’s not so nice? Hot temperatures mean all that food you just bought at the supermarket is basically a ticking time bomb for harmful bacteria growth. (Put those groceries to good use with the 180+ recipes in Prevention’s Eat Clean, Lose Weight & Love Every Bite—try it FREE for 21 days!)
Before you start rolling your eyes and muttering something about the food safety police, consider this: You’d obviously never store groceries in a metal box that’s sitting out in the summer sun, right? But when you pack your bags in the car, that’s exactly what you’re doing. On hot, sunny days, the temperature inside your car can soar to as high as 172 degrees, according to the CDC. Not exactly ideal for stuff like meat, fish, chicken, or dairy. (Pushed your luck? Here are 4 signs you have food poisoning.)
Of course, that number will start to drop once you open your windows or crank up the air conditioning. But the inside of your car still be more than warm enough for nasty bugs that could potentially make you sick to start flourishing on your food.