NORMAN — With the holidays rapidly approaching I’m sure many of you are considering sending food to your loved ones as gifts. Here are a few food safety tips to help make sure the food arrives safely and in good condition to prevent foodborne illness.
· Make sure first and foremost that the company you are sending through allows perishable items such as food.
· Overnight delivery is the safest way to ensure food gets to the recipient as quickly as possible to avoid spoilage.
· Always pack food in a cooler or heavy corrugated cardboard.
· If working with dry ice as a coolant, make sure you never touch dry ice with your bare hands and make sure you write “dry ice” on outside of package so the mail handler is aware and warned.
· Write “Keep Refrigerated” on outside of box if this applies to your food.
· Send packages at the beginning of the week — not the end — to make sure there is sufficient time to be received.
· If possible, send foods that do not require refrigeration such as cookies, hard cheese, salami, country ham or dried spices. (A great gift idea is to send all the dry ingredients for a cookie or cake in a mason jar, layered in a pretty pattern with directions to add liquids.)
· When you are the one receiving food items open it immediately. Check for signs of ice crystals if it is a frozen item. Check the temperature of the food on refrigerated items to ensure the temperature is below 40F. If perishable items arrive greater than 40F throw them out. They are not safe for consumption and notify the company.
· Make sure you let the sender know you received the item and what condition it is in.
Hopefully these tips will allow your loved ones to receive your home made food items safely.
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.