Food safety and meal delivery service

What you need to know to make sure your home-delivered meals are safe to eat.

Meal kit delivery services have become extremely popular over the past couple years, and a simple internet search reveals there are at least 15 nation-wide companies now offering home-delivered meals that you cook on your own via a guided recipe. Whether you are already subscribed to a service, or are considering subscription, food safety should be a factor in your decision.

Things to consider regarding food safety and your meal kit subscription
  • Does the service provide food safety information, either with the kits themselves or on their website? In my research, I found that many of the services have basic food safety information somewhere on their website, but it was often difficult to find and wasn’t very specific. For example, they gave USDA/FDA recommendations to cook foods to proper temperatures, but did not specify what those temperatures are. Ideally, food safety information specific to recipes and ingredients should be provided with the meal kits, such as how to safely handle chicken, and what temperature it needs to be cooked to.
  • Does the packaging provide the proper refrigeration during transport? While I only have personal experience with one company’s packaging, and I’m sure each service does it slightly differently, but packing/cooling might be the most important factor to food safety. These boxes of perishable food are travelling around the nation with some sort of postal service, not a refrigerated truck meant for travelling with food. Then the box may sit on your doorstep for 5-10 hours while you’re at work. The first thing to check when you get home and open your box is, are the cold packs still cold/frozen? If not, you may have a problem. Take it a step further and get your trusty food thermometer and check the temperature of the actual food items. Perishable foods need to be 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to be safe. If the temps are higher than that, do not eat the food. Put the ingredients in the fridge and contact your meal kit provider to make a complaint.
  • When in doubt, call the company. In fact, contact multiple companies before deciding on a service and ask about their food safety practices. While deciding whether to get the carnivore or the paleo box might seem like the most important decision, food safety should be a key factor in your choice as well.

Michigan State University Extension recommends taking food safety into your own hands. Always have a food thermometer available, and take temperatures when your box arrives. Also educate yourself on what the proper internal cooking temperatures are for various foods. If you feel like your food is not safe or did not arrive at the right temperature, do not eat the food. 

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