’Tis the season for holiday cheer, decorations, and, of course, presents. What better gift can be given than beautiful assortments of food? Giving food as holiday gifts has grown in popularity over the years, but ordering and delivering food as gifts introduces some food safety concerns. Is your business prepared to safely handle the influx of holiday orders this season?
In this post, we’ll go over some of the best food safety tips to ensure that your consumers are receiving the freshest foods as gifts. Our tips will focus on three categories:
Guidelines for safe storage temperatures
Packaging and transportation environments
Food safety information and labeling
Let’s take a closer look.
The Weather Is Cold (and so Is Your Fridge): Guidelines for Safe Storage Temps
At this very moment, there’s someone out there thinking about giving your food as a holiday gift. That’s why your company needs to have a strict food safety plan in place. The three most important things to remember when dealing with storing food in coolers and freezers are temperature, temperature, and temperature. The bacteria that cause foodborne illness can grow rapidly in food that is above 40⁰F — and doubles in as little as 20 minutes.
The temperature range is critical not only for where your goods are prepared, but also where they’re stored, and in the trucks that are used to deliver your product. Ensure that all refrigerator temperatures are set at or below 40⁰F at all times. And the freezer? That temperature should always be at a frigid 0⁰F.
(Food) Safe Travels: Packaging and Transportation Environments
When shipping food packages, there are a few things you should always anticipate — mainly worst-case conditions. It’s easy to assume these things won’t happen, but we all know what happens when we assume.
Here’s what to keep in mind when shipping goods to consumers:
Transit delays: Traffic isn’t always predictable, or there could be a delay at a warehouse. Your goods should be able to stay fresh if it’s delayed a day or two.
Extreme temperatures during transit: To monitor temperature during transit, you should utilize a continuous monitoring solution for totes. That way, if there is a temperature excursion, your team will know before it makes it all the way to a disappointed consumer.
The consumer may not open the package right away: Similar to transit delays, you want to make sure the goods will remain safe if the consumer doesn’t make it home until the end of the day.
Here are some tips to keep the product within a safe temperature range throughout its journey from your business to the consumer. You should use the following food transit recommendations year-round, but ensure that your company follows these tips even during the busy holiday season.
Use properly sized containers with a suitable amount of extra space for packing materials and insulation. The best packaging containers are made of foam or heavy corrugated cardboard.
Use appropriate packing materials to protect the contents from being damaged during transit
Chill or freeze the products before packing
The Best Gifts Are Properly Labeled: Food Safety Information and Labeling
Labels are very important because they contain critical information — more specifically, information concerning the proper handling and storage of perishable food products. These labels should always be marked clearly on the package. It’s important to make sure that all items and the outer package are clearly labeled “Keep Refrigerated” so that the consumer knows how to properly store the gift.
When it comes to food safety, information should always be easily accessible. If the person who received this wonderful gift is confused and wants more information, they should be able to easily access it on your company website. Make sure to update regularly to ensure accuracy.
The holidays are a joyous time to celebrate with friends and family. And nothing puts a damper on the festivities like contaminated holiday gifts. A strong food safety plan is important to have in place year-round, but with the influx of orders during the holiday season, it’s important to ensure that nothing is overlooked. This holiday season, share these recommendations with your employees and you'll be sure to deliver nothing but holiday cheer to your consumers!