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A woman carrying a grocery bag.

In the summer, make grocery shopping the last stop on your to-do list.

Hot enough to fry an egg?

U expert has tips on keeping food fresh during summer heat waves

By Carol Ann Burtness

From eNews, August 2, 2007

If you're running errands on a really hot day this summer--and grocery shopping is on your list--make sure the grocery store is your last stop. The temperature inside your parked car can easily exceed 140 degrees within a few minutes when you are shopping. In this warm environment, bacteria multiply rapidly in food and there is a greater chance a food-borne illness will occur. Follow some simple tips for grocery shopping this summer to reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses:

Staying safe in summer heat

Between 1995 and 2004, the National Weather Service reported an annual average of 235 fatalities from hot weather. "Heat-related illness kills as many people each year in the United States as floods, tornadoes, lightning, and cold weather combined," says John Shutske, a safety and health specialist with University of Minnesota Extension. Heat-related illness includes heat exhaustion, which can rapidly progress to heat stroke, a life-threatening emergency.

According to the American Red Cross, signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. And signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high, reaching 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

For more tips, read "Exercising in summer heat."

Carol Ann Burtness is a food science educator with University of Minnesota Extension.