Canned Food Go Bad in a Hot Car: Yes. Find Out Why.

It was a hot and sunny afternoon; you just got home from the groceries. Your car filled with paper bags of food, toilet paper, and cleaning materials. You rushed out of your car while holding everything you bought from the grocery store. You placed it all down at the kitchen counter and went straight to bed. The following day, as you open the car door. You suddenly see a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup on the car seat. You realized you forgot this canned food in your car under the hot sun and you start wondering if it is still edible.

This scenario almost happens to all of us, grocery shoppers. We were rushing to get out of our cars and we didn’t even notice the things we accidentally left behind. We start asking ourselves, “does canned food go bad in a hot car?” The answer is, yesThe USDA Food Safety & Inspection Services (FSIS) indicated that the average canned food can possibly last for about one to four years. This is only possible if it was stored in a cool, dark place. When canned foods are exposed to a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit it can potentially bring harm to the canned food and should not be consumed.

A Guide to Canned Food 

Canned food products are often thought to be less nutritious than frozen or fresh food. This thought stemmed from the fact that food in a metal can look less nutritious than regular food. Food that can be seen in a freezer or on a grocery shelf. 

This is not always the case, a study shows that canned food do preserve most of the food’s nutrients. This is undoubtedly true because of the process of canning food. One of the most important nutrients in food that humans need are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The canning process do not affect these nutrients from food. The process also extends the shelf life of the food which is perfect for storing a ton of it in case of emergencies. 

Toby Amidor is a registered dietician and consultant. He indicated that the shelf life of any canned food is undeniably longer than fresh food because of the process of canning. But it is still vital to check the labels that manufacturers put on it.

  • “Best-by” means that this is the recommended time to use the product for the best physical and/or sensory quality.
  • “Use-by” is understood as the final days of the product will be at its peak freshness, flavor, and texture. Beyond the indicates Use-By date the food’s quality will deteriorate. 

To learn more about this from Toby Amidor, click here for more information.

Never Consume a Canned Food Left in the Car. 

Canned food was made to last for long periods of time, if and only if, it was stored in a cool, dark place. It is common for us grocery shoppers to accidentally leave one or two cans in the car after carrying bags of groceries into the house. But once you realize you forgot it in there for more than 24 hours, immediately throw it away. Here’s why.

Imagine parking your car under the hot-scorching summer sun in the afternoon for about an hour. On an average day with temperatures reaching about 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) or hotter, the interior of the car will reach an average of 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius).

Under a shade with the same scenario, the interior of the car would still reach an approximate average of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

The USDA Food Safety & Inspection Services(FSIS) stated that any canned food that is exposed to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher would harm the food inside of the can. Canned food must only place in a storage that has an average temperature of 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius). For more information on this, click here to proceed to the official website of the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Services. 

Hidden Benefits of Canned Food. 

There are doubts from grocery shoppers about the health benefits of this food product. Most would assume that canned food is less nutritious or even say that there is no nutrition at all.

Chef Nicholas Appert invented the canning process by putting poultry into glass bottles, closing it by using corks and then submerging them in boiling water in 1795. This process invented over hundreds of years ago is still being used until now but with added preservatives to prolong the canned food’s shelf life even more.

9 out of 10 Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. This means 9 out of 10 Americans don’t receive the right amount of nutrition on a daily basis. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANESA) data indicated eating canned food will aid Americans to build a healthy diet. They also indicated that canned foods are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and protein which will benefit any family whose diet doesn’t meet the suggested amount of nutrients. 

Insulated Bags for Grocery Shopping.

Grocery shopping is an essential task to do in the household. It is advisable to bring your own shopping bag when you go grocery shopping to lessen the use of plastic bags. A good insulated reusable bags would do the trick. A thermal or insulated bag is technically a shipping container that is used to maintain the temperature of its content. It keeps the cold items cold, while the hot items hot.

On a hot summer day, you’d expect that your car would exceed the 100 degrees Fahrenheit limit. If so, having an insulated bag to store your food items after grocery shopping is advisable. Imagine accidentally leaving any canned food in the car but it’s inside an insulated bag. Even on a hot day your canned food will be safe from being harmed by the extreme heat building up inside the interior of your vehicle.

Insulated Bags May Protect Your Canned Food.

The insulated bag’s exterior is made from polyester while the interior is made with heavy duty foil. With the cooler bag technology it may maintain the internal temperature of the bag. It now starts reducing or eliminating damage to your grocery items in extreme heat.

Listed below are three insulated bags that are currently being sold on Amazon that is perfect in storing food items, especially canned food.

  • The NZ Home Insulated Reusable Bag is one of the most popularly known insulated bags in the market. What consumers love about this product is that it is collapsible and foldable. It has a 16 inch width, a 13 inch height, and a diameter that is 9 inches. This is perfect for carrying tons of grocery items. Because it stands upright, it eliminated the hassle of keeping the bag open while putting items inside. With an average rating of 4.6/5.0 on Amazon, this product is certainly worth the money for an easy grocery shopping experience.
  • I suggest you go for the SMILRY Insulated Reusable Grocery Bag. If you like hoarding grocery products. This bag is bigger than the first one mentioned. It has a size of 16in x 10in x 13in, made for carrying bigger items in the grocery. Not to mention, the 14 x 8 inch zipped interior pocket and 9 x 8 inch hook and loop exterior pocket for additional storage space. With a rating of 4.4/5.0 this reusable insulated bag is a tough product to beat.
  • The KIBAGA Commercial Insulated Bag on the other hand is made to cater for food deliveries. That may be the case, but this bag is still perfect for your simple grocery shopping. This product is being sold in sets of 2, with a size of 22in x 10in x 10in. Because it’s made for delivery hot or cold food, the interior foil for preserving the interior temperature is thicker. Most consumers would go for the other two mentioned because of size, but this insulated bag is still a recommended bag for grocery shopping.

Final Thoughts


Accidentally leaving canned food in the car may happen once or twice. And if you do, make sure none of your family members consume the leftover canned food. The food inside may have already been exposed to too much heat.  Canned food will last long only if you store it properly and is away from physical damage. To see more information about this, click here

Buying an insulated bag may help your grocery shopping experience because most are foldable, compact, and easy-to-carry. These bags will surely keep your important items in your grocery list in the right temperature. We must also consider that these bags are reusable so buying an insulated reusable bag for $60 or $80 is worth it because it produces less waste. 

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