Food Safety Issues/Lamb in hot car


I bought some lamb chops this morning and it was a hot day, about 80. I put the lamb in the car and then went into another shop. Lamb was in the car for about 15-20 minutes. I know this is in the safe time period but does the heat of the car make a difference? Is meat that sits in a hot car even for shorter periods safe to eat ?

Hi Madeleine,

In the US we use the recommendation that if the temperature is 90 degrees or above, meats can only be out of refrigeration for only up to 1 hour.

With temperatures below 90 degrees, the recommendation is to be out of refrigeration 2 hours.

So yes, it does make a difference if the temperature is hotter, such as in your car on a hot day.  I would say the maximum amount of time the lamb could be out of refrigeration is 1 hour with the outside temperature 80 degrees and probably much hotter in your car.

Since your lamb was in the car only 15-20 minutes it is well within the safe limits for even the hot recommendation.

For peace of mind, you might want to put a styrofoam cooler in your car on hot days to help keep your meat cold.


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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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