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A Small Business Guide to Shipping Food

May 22, 2018 Courier

shipping food
shipping food

Shipping food, especially perishable food, might seem hard, but once you know the tricks, it’s pretty simple. But doesn’t learning those tricks take a lot of trial and error? It doesn’t have to. Take a look at this complete guide to learn the best way to ship frozen and refrigerated perishable foods safely.

How to Ship Non-Perishable Food

Because non-perishable food doesn’t have to be kept cold, it’s the easiest type of food to ship. All you need is the right type of packaging.

These types of foods include things like peanuts, beef jerky, protein bars, crackers, etc. They can be kept at room temperature, warm conditions, and cold conditions, so the shipping process won’t make them spoil.

How to Package Non-Perishable Food

You can package this food much like you would any other type of package.

Once you pick the right sized cardboard box, just line it with bubble wrap or packing peanuts and put your food snuggly in the middle. This will keep the food from sliding around and possibly cracking or crumbling.

Then get your package in the mail. You don’t have to worry about overnight or fast shipping.

Just don’t ship your non-perishable foods through extreme temperature conditions. Though this may not make the food spoil, it could ruin the integrity of the food.

How to Ship Perishable Fresh Food

This is food that needs to stay refrigerated throughout the shipping process. Think of foods like fruit, cheese, vegetables, etc.

If these foods are kept cold when they’re shipped, they will go bad during the trip. A person who eats perishable food that isn’t prepared and shipped properly could end up with food poisoning, which means you could lose money or have even bigger problems on your hands.

That’s something you want to avoid, so make sure you know how to ship your perishable foods.

How to Package Perishable Foods

All perishable foods should be packaged in both a styrofoam box and a normal cardboard box.

The styrofoam acts as an insulator, so the thicker the styrofoam, the longer your food products will be kept cold. This styrofoam box will then go directly inside your cardboard box.

You will also need the appropriate amount of cold packs. Like the styrofoam box, the more ice packs you have, the longer they’ll keep the package cold.

What Type of Cold Packs Should I Use?

This depends on what type of perishable product you are shipping. Most cold packs work the same, and you can thaw and refreeze them multiple times. When picking which is best for you, it all comes down to the shape.

Pliable Cold Packs: These cold packs are flexible even when they’re completely frozen, meaning you can fold and bend them to fit into small spaces. This makes them fit well on the sides, top, and bottom of styrofoam boxes.

Gel Cold Packs: Because they are made of gel, these cold packs can be squished into any shape you need. This makes them great choices if other types of cold packs won’t fit in your package.

Foam Brick Cold Packs: These cold packs look like bricks, making them both bigger and less pliable than the other cold packs. If you are using a soft-sided insulator to ship your food, these will keep your products protected.

Solid Plastic Cold Packs: Solid plastic packs are just that, solid. This makes them a bit harder to work with if you have small spaces to fill. But these cold packs are durable, making them a good fit for soft-sided insulators.

Do I Need Overnight Shipping for My Perishable Food?

You might think the answer is yes, but perishable food doesn’t always need to be shipped overnight. If you package it correctly, your food will stay fresh in delivery for several days.

While you don’t want to leave this food in the mail for a week, one or two days might be fine.

How to Prepare My Perishable Food

Any perishable food that won’t be shipped overnight should be packaged in a styrofoam insulator at least 1 1/2 inches thick (overnight shipments only need a styrofoam box that’s 3/4 of an inch thick).

The food should either be vacuum sealed or securely wrapped in plastic wrap or plastic bags. If the food is damp, dry it off before packaging.

Mark the package as “Perishable-Keep Refrigerated.” Once it is delivered, this will let the recipient know it needs to be put in the refrigerator right away. If the food is warmer than 41 degrees Fahrenheit when it arrives, the recipient should not eat it.

How to Ship Perishable Frozen Food

Shipping frozen food is harder than shipping refrigerated food, but it’s not impossible. In order to keep these foods frozen, you’ll need to package them with dry ice.

What You Need to Know About Dry Ice

Dry ice is much colder than normal ice. In fact, it’s about -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit. This means it will keep your frozen food nice and cold, but it also comes with some risks.

Dry ice is made of frozen carbon dioxide, and that makes it a hazardous shipping material. If you don’t package your dry ice properly, the carbon dioxide will build up and explode. This will put more regulations on how you can ship your products.

Dry Ice Safety Tips

Always wear gloves when handling dry ice. This will protect you from getting any burns. Similarly, the dry ice should never come in direct contact with any of your frozen perishables.

How to Package Frozen Perishables

Packaging frozen food is very similar to packaging refrigerated food, the only difference is you use dry ice instead of cold packs.

The package must also be marked for hazardous materials so handlers know there is dry ice inside. Make sure you have all the proper warnings before you ship your package.

Dry ice can keep your frozen foods in good condition for a few days, but any meat should be shipped overnight.

Shipping Food Safely

You should always stay on the safe side when you’re shipping food. Don’t stretch your delivery time out to four days just because it will save you a few bucks. The safety of your customers should always come first.

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