CONSUMER REPORTS — Sonia Fujimori shops for groceries twice a week. And she always brings an insulated bag to keep her food chilled until she drives home.

“The bag helps me because everything in here is cold, it’s insulated and it has a longer time that it can stay cold and frozen and gives me a little more time to get home,” Fujimori said.

Your parked car can get pretty hot. Even when the temperature outside is in the 70’s, the temperature inside a car can quickly heat to over 120-degrees. But it doesn’t even take extreme heat to ruin your food.

According to the USDA, some bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses can double in number every 20 minutes at room temperature – so imagine what can happen in a hot car.

How can you keep your food fresh, and your family from getting sick? Consumer Reports says step one is planning ahead. 

First – avoid the heat. Try to shop in the morning, when it’s cooler. Insulated bags with cold packs are great for keeping cold and frozen items chilled until you get them home.

Meat, poultry and fish are at the highest risk for food poisoning. Don’t let them sit in your cart while you shop. Ask for a bag of ice at the fish counter, and to avoid cross-contamination, bag meats separately.

“Many people go to several grocery stores in a single trip. If you make multiple stops, make your last stop where you buy your meat and poultry. That way, you minimize the amount of time these foods spend unrefrigerated,” said Trisha Calvo of Consumer Reports

For the ride home, CR auto experts say this is the best way to cool down a hot car. Once you start driving, open all the windows. Turn on the AC and crank the fan. 

Once the cold air starts, close the front windows, but leave the back ones partially open for about 20 seconds. This will allow the hot air to escape out the back of your car.