Receiving Home Delivery Meals or Mailing Food, What Should You Do?

While the mail order food industry has relied on a safe track record, there is growing concern with the limited food safety guidance and regulations provided by FDA.
Receiving Home Delivery Meals or Mailing Food, What Should You Do? - Articles


The online ordering of food has increased significantly within the last few years. Major grocery retailers and specialty online food merchants like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Walmart and others are rushing to meet the demands of busy families and individuals that are looking for time saving and convenience to buy their food. The selection of fresh produce, raw meats, poultry, fish and dairy products all available at the click of the mouse, allowing the home user to have those items shipped to their door. While the mail order industry has relied on a safe track record, there is growing concern with the limited food safety guidance currently in place by FDA as they review and study the issues. Numerous independent studies conducted to evaluate the potential food safety risks of raw or processed perishable products shipped to the home have found products arriving at temperatures above 40 °F, placing them at risk for microorganism spoilage and producing harmful foodborne pathogenic bacteria (those that can make you sick).

So as a consumer, what can you do?

  • Review how the company packages and sends perishable food ingredients. Determine if additional cold packs or dry ice can be purchased to protect those perishable products during shipping. Ideally, it should be packed in foam or heavy corrugated cardboard.
  • Determine how the product will be shipped. Select overnight or the shortest delivery time to ensure proper temperature control has been maintained. Order your food items early in the week, some shipping companies only deliver during the weekday, food products sitting at a warehouse over the weekend are placed in danger for temperature abuse. When you place your order, ensure that someone will be available to inspect the product upon delivery.
  • Promptly open and inspect frozen and or refrigerated products. Purchase a food thermometer and take internal temperatures of refrigerated products. Notify the company for any refrigerated products at a temperature above 40 °F. Frozen foods should arrive frozen or partially frozen. Signs of ice crystals on the product can be evidence the product was thawed and then refrozen. Inspect package for tears or leaks and above all else notify the company immediately of your concerns. Discard any perishable product that has been temperature abused. You don’t know how long it has been in the temperature danger zone.

For many Americans who like to cook and ship food they made to family and friends across the nation, there are important tips you can do to ensure your food products arrive safely.

  • Select an appropriate foam or heavy corrugated cardboard box to ship those perishable items, use ice packs or dry ice to maintain good temperature control. It is important to ensure you have sufficient amount of ice packs or dry ice to maintain the temperature for the duration of the shipping time to the final destination.
  • Select the fastest delivery schedule, send packages out at the beginning of the week, many delivery carriers only deliver during the business days. You do not want perishable product sitting in a mailing facility over the weekend.
  • Mark you package on the outside with “Keep Refrigerated” and “Perishable”. Request a tracking code and send the intended receiver the tracking code or expected delivery date so that it can be received and promptly inspected and stored.

Remember, temperature control is critical for perishable foods.