How to ship frozen food?

A pile of frozen beef steaks

Here is our guide to the best way to pack and ship frozen food products for sending in the mail.

When packing frozen food for shipping, it’s important to use materials that will keep the food cold and prevent it from thawing. You want to ensure that the food remains frozen or cold, otherwise it might be dangerous to eat or consume, due to a build up of bacteria.

Here are some general tips for packing frozen food for shipping:

  1. Use a sturdy box that is large enough to hold the frozen food and leave enough space for insulation material around the food.
  2. Place the frozen food in a plastic bag or container that is leak-proof, and then seal the bag or container securely.
  3. Place the frozen food in the center of the box and surround it with refrigerant, like gel packs, and insulation material, such as packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or foam sheets.
  4. Fill any empty spaces in the box with more insulation material to prevent the food from shifting during shipping.
  5. Close and seal the box securely with tape, and label the box “Frozen Food – Keep Frozen” to ensure that it is handled properly during transit.
  6. Place the box in a shipping container or bag designed for shipping frozen food, or use a shipping service that offers cold-chain packaging options.

It’s also important to make sure that the frozen food will stay frozen during the shipping process. To do this, you may need to use dry ice or a gel pack to keep the food at a low temperature. It’s a good idea to check with the shipping company or carrier to find out their requirements for shipping frozen food, and to follow their guidelines for packaging and handling the food.

Will shipping companies accept frozen food for shipping?

Most shipping companies will accept frozen food for shipment, but it’s important to check with the specific company that you plan to use to make sure. Some shipping companies may have specific requirements for packing and handling frozen food, and may charge additional fees for shipping food that requires temperature-controlled packaging.

It’s also important to consider the transit time for the shipment, and to choose a shipping method that will ensure that the food stays frozen during transit. For example, if the transit time is longer than two days, you may need to use dry ice or a gel pack to keep the food at a low temperature. It’s a good idea to discuss your specific needs with the shipping company and to follow their guidelines for packing and shipping frozen food.

Gel packs or dry ice?

What is the best refrigerant? Both gel packs and dry ice can be used to keep frozen food cold during shipping, but they have some important differences. Gel packs are reusable, non-toxic, and easy to handle, but they can only keep food cold for a limited amount of time. Dry ice, on the other hand, is a solid form of carbon dioxide that can keep food frozen for longer periods of time, but it can be dangerous to handle and can cause burns if it comes into contact with skin. Additionally, dry ice can cause packaging to become brittle and break if it is not handled properly.

What is the law in the US?

There is no law about shipping frozen perishable food items. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) gives some tips:

  • Ensure food is packed with a cold source, eg. gel packs or dry ice.
  • It should be delivered as quickly as possible, ideally overnight.
  • If you receive a package marked Keep Refrigerated, or you know it to contain frozen food, open it immediately and measure the temperature. Do not consume the food if it arrives at a temperature above 40 °F.
  • If you are the sender, tell the recipient, so they know frozen or chilled produce is on the way.

What are the most common types of frozen food that are shipped?

Some of the most common types of frozen foods that are shipped include frozen meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and prepared meals. Frozen foods are often shipped to customers who have ordered them online, or to distributors and retailers who sell frozen food products. Frozen foods are also commonly shipped to restaurants, hotels, and other food service establishments that use frozen ingredients in their dishes. In general, frozen foods are shipped in order to preserve their freshness and quality, and to ensure that they are safe to eat when they reach their destination.

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Sources:

FedEx, 5 tips – https://www.fedex.com/en-us/small-business/articles-insights/5-tips-for-shipping-perishables.html

UPS food shipping – https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/shipping-support/shipping-special-care-regulated-items/prohibited-items/food.page

FSIS, USDA – https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/mail-order-food-safety

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