Grocery stores are pulling perishable food, covering aisles in plastic sheets, and running sprinklers on their roofs as they battle a record heat wave

·2 min read
  • Grocers in Washington state have been forced to stop selling some refrigerated goods in a heat wave.

  • The heat makes it hard for air-conditioning and refrigeration units to maintain low temperatures.

  • Some photos appeared to show refrigerated goods covered in plastic in Fred Meyer stores.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Grocery stores in Washington state have been forced to pull perishable goods from shelves and turn off entire refrigerated sections as the state experiences record-shattering temperatures.

On Monday, several areas in Oregon and Washington broke records as temperatures rose to as high as 116 degrees. The heat has caused several power outages throughout the region and taken a toll on local businesses.

The weather makes it difficult for refrigeration and freezer units to maintain low temperatures. A reporter for Fox Seattle said the heat had caused the refrigeration units to malfunction at an Albertsons store in Mill Creek, Washington. The grocer was forced to pull several perishable goods from its shelves, including meats, lettuces, and dairy items, the reporter said, adding that the store posted signs telling customers it couldn't provide several refrigerated foods and cordoned off the empty aisles.

Video: Why humidity makes you feel hotter

Other stores in the state have used similar tactics. Some Fred Meyer stores in Washington state put plastic covers over refrigerated goods to keep in the cool air, dozens of posts on social media suggested. A Fred Meyer spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Heat waves like this one are becoming deadly. On Tuesday, The Seattle Times reported that at least two people had died and that hundreds of people had gone to hospitals amid the triple-digit temperatures.

Cooling equipment such as air conditioners have been struggling to fight the heat, showcasing a global need for more effective cooling strategies, Axios reported.

-Lou Brancaccio (@lounews) June 28, 2021

Two people said on social media that at least two Fred Meyer locations had turned on roof sprinklers to help maintain air-conditioning and freezer units.

People in Washington posted pictures of grocery stores with empty freezer aisles and refrigerated units wrapped in plastic. Some people said aisles of Gatorade and electrolyte drinks had been cleared out, while others said they'd seen crowds of shoppers trying to beat the heat.

Several Seattle restaurants and cafes have closed because of refrigeration and air-conditioning issues. Melissa Miranda, the owner of Musang, a popular downtown Filipinx restaurant, told Eater Seattle that the heat created unsustainable working conditions.

"Most importantly it's my concern for the staff," Miranda said, adding, "Working in these conditions is insane."

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