Food safety with mail order food

There are a few tips to follow to ensure the safety of any foods that are sent through the mail.

Holidays increase the awareness of the importance of food safety when shipping foods as gifts. Whether it is home prepared or purchased foods, there are a few tips to follow to ensure the safety of any foods that are sent through the mail.

All perishable foods should be shipped cold (40 degrees or less) in a foam or heavy cardboard box with a cold source included. These foods would include meat and poultry products, vacuum packaged smoked fish, some sausages and cheeses. These types of foods should be delivered as quickly as possible, ideally, overnight. Make sure perishable items and the outer package are labeled “keep refrigerated”. It is advised to alert the recipient that “a gift is in the mail” so that they or a neighbor can be home to receive it. Otherwise it may sit unsafely on the front porch or post office for hours or even days.

When you receive a food item marked “keep refrigerated” open immediately and check its temperature. The food should be frozen, partially frozen with ice crystals or cold to the touch. If perishable food is warm, do not consume. It is the shipper’s responsibility to deliver the food on time and the customer’s responsibility to have someone at home to receive the package. Notify the company if you think you deserve a refund.

Shipping foods at the beginning of the week would help ensure they will not sit at the post office or in a warehouse through the weekend. Most cookies, candies and baked goods are safe to ship, except if they contain custard, cream fillings or dairy products. When packing baked goods, cool completely before packing. Foods packed warm may condense in the package and cause sogginess or mold growth. Pack the container tightly with paper or packing material so contents do not shift.

Everyone loves getting packages in the mail, especially food (see mail order food safety). Following these simple, but important guidelines will ensure that the contents of these food packages will be safe and enjoyable.

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