During the holidays, it’s a great idea (not to mention cheaper) to give food as gift items. This is especially true if you have a special recipe for a cake that your friends and relatives just love to have. If you’re planning on sending food items through the mail, however, it’s very important that you know how to send the food safely – you wouldn’t want to give food poisoning as a gift this holiday season! Here are some tips on how to mail perishables:
- Check how soon the package will arrive. Nowadays it’s usual for courier companies to offer overnight to two-day delivery services on packages – even those that have international destinations. That amount of time is usually sufficient for food to stay fresh, or at the very least, safe to eat. Just make sure to double-check with the courier company how soon that package will get to your intended recipient. Also make sure that you let the courier service know that the package contains perishable food – they would likely have special procedures to handle such items. Another important factor to remember is that you should avoid sending the perishable to an office address. This is because the package may arrive on a weekend, or after office hours, and it may be some time before the recipient himself sees it.
- Know how to package the perishables. It will depend on the actual food item how it should be packaged, but there are some general guidelines that you could follow. Make sure that you allot enough space in the box for cushioning material (such as bubble wrap or crumpled newspaper), and that after this material has been added, the perishable item will not shake too much. As much as possible, avoid sending food that requires refrigeration. If this is the case, know that you’d really have to take extra steps to ensure that it stays cool throughout its journey. Pack the food with dry ice or frozen gel packs (by the way, never, ever handle dry ice with your bare hands, and make sure that the package has a “contains dry ice” label outside). The recommended components of a perishable food that requires refrigeration is as follows: a corrugated sturdy box where you place the dry ice, an insulated cooler (with a cover) where you place the perishable item and the above-mentioned sturdy box, and a polyethylene film where you put everything. Finally, make sure that you secure the package with strong packing tape, and not ordinary clear tape.
- Alert the recipient of your package. Though you may be tempted to send the package as a surprise, this is not recommended. For one, the recipient may decide to open it, say, on Christmas day (and what a great surprise for him to get rotten food!). Alert him that he should refrigerate the perishable item as soon as he receives it. If the food contains meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, or fish, it is important that the recipient checks the temperature with a food thermometer. If it is still frozen or at least below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or 4.5 degrees Celsius), then it’s still okay to eat. The key here is that highly perishable food should never be warm – warm perishable food sent over the mail will have disease-causing bacteria and cannot be eaten, not even if it still looks and tastes okay.
There you have it! These are just some of the very important things you’d need to know if you plan on sending food items over the mail this holiday season. As long as you follow these precautionary measures, you’d certainly be able to send your love to your relatives, even across distances! Good luck!