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Safely Pack Perishable Goods for Mailing


Many of us enjoy mailing special food items to family and friends. The rules that cover the mail order industry also apply to foods prepared and mailed from home. Make sure perishable foods are not held at temperatures between 40 and 140 'F, the "Danger Zone", for longer than 2 hours. Pathogenic bacteria can grow rapidly in the "Danger Zone", but they do not generally affect the taste, smell, or appearance of a food.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Ship in a sturdy box.
  2. Pack with a cold source, i.e., frozen gel packs or dry ice.
  3. When using dry ice:
    • Do not touch the dry ice with bare hands.
    • Do not let it come in direct contact with food.
    • Warn the recipient of its use by writing "Contains Dry Ice" on the outside of the box.
  4. Wrap box in two layers of brown paper.
  5. Use permanent markers to label outside of the box. Use recommended packing tape.
  6. Label outside clearly; make sure address is complete and correct.
  7. Write "Keep Refrigerated" on outside of the box.
  8. Alert recipient of its expected arrival.
  9. Do not send to business addresses or where there will not be adequate refrigerator storage.
  10. Do not send packages at the end of the week. Send them at the beginning of the week so they do not sit in the post office or mailing facility over the weekend.
  11. Whenever possible, send foods that do not require refrigeration, e.g., hard salami, hard cheese, country ham.


  1. Sturdy boxes can be purchased through moving companies, pack and ship stores, and office supply stores.
  2. Frozen gel packs can be found at grocery stores and drugstores.
  3. Rolls of brown wrapping paper can be purchased through paper supply companies.
  4. Using waterproofed markers will prevent what you write being washed away while being shipped.

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