Keep Food Safety In Mind

Holiday gifts of food can be pleasant surprises, but if food safety and quality have been compromised during shipping, the gifts may need to be discarded, rather than enjoyed.
Holiday gifts of food can be pleasant surprises, but if food safety and quality have been compromised during shipping, the gifts may need to be discarded, rather than enjoyed. Karen Blakeslee, Kansas State University Research and Extension rapid response coordinator, offers these tips to help ensure that gifts of food will be delivered safely:

  • Consider mailing and shipping options when choosing recipes and food items that will be included in the gift box. If a package is to be shipped halfway across the country or around the world -- choose non- perishable foods. Hard candy, packaged snack or trail mixes, dried fruit, jerky, dehydrated soup or beverage mixes can be safe choices, Blakeslee says.

  • For gifts that will not need to be world travelers, choose less fragile recipes. Brownies, bar or other "hard" cookies, such as gingersnaps, generally travel better than more fragile shaped or decorated cookies, she says. Not all brownies are the same, though. Brownies or other cookies made with cream cheese may mold if delayed in transit.

  • Wrap gift foods carefully. Use cookie tins, durable plastic food storage containers or a sturdy box that can be lined with food wrap. Layer cookies and separate layers with food wrap or waxed paper. Wrapping larger or decorated cookies individually in food wrap and adding a ribbon or sticker can simulate commercially available gourmet cookie assortments and also protect them.

    Placing a cookie container within a box and surrounding it with crumpled newspaper or bubble wrap can cushion the container in transit, she says.

  • Include recipes or a list of ingredients as a courtesy to recipients. Food allergies can be a problem, particularly during the holidays. In candies and cookies, nuts that may cause a severe allergic reaction are not always obvious. If considering a gift of food for a relative or friend who may have dietary restrictions, check the restrictions to make sure your gift will be appropriate.

  • Include a copy of the recipient's name and address inside the package in case the shipping label is lost.

  • Give the recipient a call or send an e-mail before mailing or shipping to let them know your gift is on the way.

    "A box of candy or cookies might be fine if set aside for a family gathering later in the week. A box of steaks needs to be opened immediately and transferred to the refrigerator or freezer," she says.

  • If choosing a commercial food provider, do your homework. Check to see if food quality and safety are guaranteed and ask about delivery options and costs. A commercial provider can be better equipped to safely ship highly perishable items, including meats, fruits and flowers. Spending a few extra dollars to guarantee overnight delivery is a good idea if gifts are highly perishable. PregnancyAndBaby.com
  • Tags: edible mail


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