Food Safety Issues/Produce left in hot car


Hi Carol,

I just received a very nice gift of corn, peaches, tomatoes,  and green beans along with baked goods.  Much of the food is packed in plastic bags and was straight from the farm.  Unfortunately, the food was kept for over 5 hours in a hot car before gifted to me.  Condensation developed on the inside of the bags.

I feel awful-- they gave a huge amount of food, but I do not feel comfortable eating it if it has been cooking in a car on a 90 degree day ( even though they cracked the windows).

I am also pregnant, so I'm getting a lot of flak about this just being overly careful.  They say there can't be any harm since produce sits out in the sun at farmers markets anyway.  But th conditions are different and I do not think it is safe to eat.  


Hi Nick,

The foods that were given to you are in a form that does not require refrigeration in order to remain safe to consume.  Fresh produce is safe to consume without refrigeration, though the shelf life the product will be lessened as the heat and moisture will encourage the quicker breakdown of the product.

Your friends are right that all of the produce mentioned do not require refrigeration when purchased and are featured at both farmer's markets and grocery stores not refrigerated. Corn and green beans should be refrigerated once you get home to extend their freshness while peaches and tomatoes are best stored at room temperature while still whole.  Once cut, these also should be refrigerated.

Baked goods that have been in a hot plastic bag will develop moisture which can affect the outside crust of the product, making it soggy.  This is not unsafe to consume.

In this case, food safety is not as much of a concern as food quality, as hot, moist conditions do encourage the growth of food spoilage organisms such as mold. If you notice mold on any of the products then I would definitely not consume them.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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