When you serve food, whether it’s to your own family or to a crowd, you want to be sure what you’re providing is safe in every way; there’s nothing worse than a case of food poisoning, no matter the source, but it’s doubly bad if it can be traced to something you should have, or shouldn’t have, done. Worse, if you’ve served something amiss to that aforementioned crowd, your miseries don’t end when the illnesses do; they only begin there. Fortunately, you can avoid the nightmares inherent in this situation with a few minutes’ care and attention to taking care of food safety. If you’re packing perishable food to send, you can take some common-sense steps to ensure less risk.
Refrigerate at Both Ends
One of the most important elements of food safety is keeping its temperature cold enough to retard bacterial growth. This usually means not one, but two cold packs go into every food shipment — one attached below the item, one above it. Baked goods and other less tricky items can require just one, below the actual food container — but it would never hurt to be extra safe, either.
If you start with food that’s frozen or at least firmly chilled, don’t pack it for shipment until the very last moment; when you do, make sure you’ve got sufficient foam insulators and the correct size package to keep it snug. Label the outside, too, so the recipient knows to keep it cold upon arrival.
Separate for Sensitivities
Over the past several years, we’ve all become more aware of food sensitivities of all kinds, from celiac disease to anaphylactic reactions. You don’t want to trigger any of these conditions with careless handling in either the kitchen or the packaging plant. That’s why you’ll see so many labels now indicating whether a product was prepared in the vicinity of possible allergens.
Sending food to places where the sensitivities of the population may be unknown such as schools, hospitals, or other institutions, means meticulous care in separating potential “triggers” from non-triggering foods, and being extra-careful about labelling. No one wants a surprise allergy attack!
Make It Your Business
Even if you’re not a professional chef or caterer, you are part of the food industry if you work for packagers who deal with food products — even if their primary or more prominent customers are non-food shippers. In many respects, working as a food packager is similar to any factory position, in that you’ll need to be detail-oriented, ready to stop a production line if necessary to correct a defect in packaging or sealing.
But for food products, be prepared to go even further than that, too. If this is your industry, you’ll often receive additional training specifically applicable to safety and hygiene, besides basic sound packing practice. If you’re in charge of maintaining production lines, you may need to repair machinery or check the functions of parts such as polyurethan puller belts, gears, or box-filling equipment. Rest assured — your task is every bit as important as the fussy chef’s at that point!
Safety First is Good Sense
These are just a few considerations that food shippers deal with every day; the good news is there’s plenty of help out there to make sure you ship your food safely. A few common-sense precautions can help you send food as presents, daily sustenance, or a special-occasion treat with complete peace of mind.
Image attribution: freedigitalphotos.netfranky242