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During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have not been able to visit family and friends as they normally do, so this holiday season sending traditional homemade specialties and foods can be especially meaningful. It’s important to keep food safety in mind when deciding what foods to prepare, package and send.
Robert Gravani, emeritus professor of food science and a food safety expert, says in order to assure food arrives in good condition and is safe to consume, it’s important to avoid perishable and fragile foods, to properly package items and to ship early to avoid delays.
Gravani says, “Foodborne illness may occur if products are not prepared and packed using safe food preparation practices and shipped with proper temperature controls. There are several factors that should be considered to assure that foods arrive in good condition and are safe to consume.
“Foods that are not fragile and will withstand the rigors of shipment and possible delays during this very busy time of year should be selected. To minimize the risks associated with sending raw or cooked perishable foods – and the need for temperature control and more complex, insulated packaging – consumers should consider sending foods that will not require refrigeration. Foods like baked goods, hard salami and hard cheeses, that are firm, moist and hard, not fragile or brittle, ship best.
“It is also important to properly package products to assure that their quality will be maintained. First, start by wrapping cooled baked goods securely in plastic wrap, zip lock bags, cookie tins, or other sturdy containers. Choose a clean, sturdy corrugated box to put foods in. Then follow with plenty of cushioning around these individually wrapped foods by using bubble wrap, packing peanuts or other packing materials. Seal the box or shipping container securely and then choose a shipping service and method to make sure the foods are transported to their destination as fast as possible to minimize transit time.
“Ship holiday foods early in the week to assure that foods will move quickly through the system and not sit in transfer facilities over the weekend. Also, plan ahead and be sure to send foods well before the holidays as there are usually heavy shipping demands during this busy time of year.
“Taking time to properly prepare, package and send holiday foods will ensure that family and friends will avoid foodborne illness and have safe, delicious treats to enjoy!”