Mail Order Food Safety
Everyone loves getting packages in the mail. Sometimes they are gifts of food. If its baked goods or shelf-stable canned items, its usually easy to tell whether the food is safe. But what about smoked turkeys, cheese and sausage gift packs and other perishable items? There are some food safety tips you need to keep in mind for these special gifts.
If you are buying food to ship to someone, first, ask the company how the food will be mailed. If its a perishable item, it should be delivered as quickly as possible ideally, overnight. Make sure perishable items and the outer package are labeled "KEEP REFRIGERATED" to alert the recipient.
Ask if the food item will come with storage and preparation instructions. Some mail order food gift items are unusual and the person you send it to may not know how to handle or prepare them.
Alert the recipient that "the 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 at the post office for hours or even days. Dont have perishable items delivered to an office unless you know it will arrive on a work day and theres refrigerator space available for keeping it cold.
If you receive a food item marked "Keep Refrigerated", open it immediately and check its temperature. Optimally, the food should arrive frozen or partially frozen with ice crystals still visible, or at least, refrigerator cold to the touch. If perishable food arrives warm, notify the company if you think you deserve a refund. Do not consume the food. But remember, its the shippers responsibility to deliver perishable foods on time; the customers responsibility to have someone at home to receive the package.
Refrigerate or freeze perishable items immediately. Even if a product is partially defrosted it is safe to freeze it, although there may be a slight loss of quality.
Knowing the food is safe will increase your enjoyment of it.