When mailing any perishable food item, it’s important to keep food safety guidelines in mind. If the product you’re sending needs to be at a consistent temperature to stay safe or poses a risk of bacterial contamination if its temperature fluctuates, it’s best not to send it at all. Some perishable items can be shipped through the mail, but they need to be prepared and packaged correctly to keep them fresh.
Things You'll Need
- Frozen gel packs or dry ice (optional)
- Zip-top plastic bag
- Plastic wrap
- Overnight Express mail envelope or box
Prepare the foods. If you’re sending cold foods that need to be warmed up, it’s not necessary to warm the foods before you package and send them. In fact, it’s better to keep the foods cold so that they won’t absorb excess moisture when they change temperature. Make homemade food items as you would normally, and allow them to cool completely before you package them for transport. If the foods you want to send are perishable or you would normally store them by refrigerating, freeze them thoroughly before packaging and sending.
Package the items. When the foods are cool, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Then place the wrapped items in a zip-top plastic bag, and put the bag in an airtight container. All these layers of packaging will help the food stay as fresh as possible during transport. If the item needs to be refrigerated or kept cold, freeze it before mailing, then package it with frozen gel packs or dry ice. Use foam, insulation, or a cooler lid if necessary to make sure the food will stay at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for its entire time of transport. If there’s a risk of the frozen product melting or releasing a lot of moisture, make sure that the packaging layers are waterproof and moisture-absorbent. To indicate to postal-service employees and the recipient that the product is perishable, write “PERISHABLE” and “KEEP REFRIGERATED” on the Express mail box or envelope.
Mail your package in an Overnight Express mail envelope or box so it will be delivered on the following business day. Take your package to the post office early in the day, and try to mail it early in the week so that it won’t be stuck at the office over the weekend or on a postal holiday. Let the recipient know when you expect the package to arrive so that he or she can sign for delivery, if necessary, and unwrap and refrigerate the product immediately.
Tips & Warnings
- If you receive any perishable foods in the mail that are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and have been that way for more than two hours, throw them out. Even if they look and smell fine, they may contain harmful bacteria that could make you sick.
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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