It’s hard to ship perishables in the mail, but it’s not impossible. Sometimes you can’t avoid shipping something perishable, and when that happens, you need to know how you can get that package to its destination quickly and safely. It all comes down to the right shipping methods and the right kind of ice. Here’s everything you need to know about shipping perishables.
Pick the Right Delivery Option
When you’re shipping perishables, you want the package to be delivered as soon as possible. If there’s a way to get same-day shipping, you definitely should.
If for whatever reason same-day shipping isn’t an option, you can go with the next best option. A lot of companies offer overnight shipping, meaning your package will get to its destination the next day. That’s really as long as you want to push delivery. Some foods may be able to last with two-day shipping, but you shouldn’t risk that with foods like meat.
What If I’m Trying to Ship Something Perishable to the Other Side of the Country?
If you do have to ship meat to the other side of the country, it won’t last the multiple days it will take to get there in a truck. In those cases, look into an air delivery service. A plain will be able to get your perishable package across the country in just a few hours.
Ship on the Right Day
Don’t wait until the end of the week to ship something perishable. If you ship the package on Friday, you run the risk of your perishable item sitting in a storage facility over the weekend and spoiling. The best days to ship something perishable is as early in the week as you can. Try to avoid delivering your perishable item any later than Wednesday afternoon.
Let the Recipient Know When to Expect the Package
If you can, let the recipient know when to expect the package at their house. This will allow the recipient to be at the house and take care of the perishable item as soon as it is delivered. Leaving a perishable package on the front porch for several hours could cause the perishable item to go bad.
How Should I Package My Perishable Item?
Now that you know what kind of shipping service you should use to ship perishable items and when you should ship them, let’s talk about packaging. You have to be very careful and specific when packing perishable items. Not only do you have to keep the package the right temperature, you have to make sure it isn’t dangerous for the people handling it. Can a package really be that dangerous? Yes, it can. So let’s look at some good ways to prepare perishable items and some methods to avoid.
Keep the Package Cold
The first part of shipping perishables is to keep the package cold. You can either use frozen gel packs or dry ice to do this. Dry ice will keep your perishables colder for longer, but it is also considered a hazardous material and has a lot of safety restrictions. We’ll tell you how you can ship with both of these options, but first, let’s skip to the other shipping materials you’ll need.
Get a New Box
Don’t reuse an old box when you’re shipping perishables. A box gets weaker every time you use it, and you want to keep your perishables protected. You also want to keep the cold inside. The best boxes for perishable shipping are quality fiberboard, also known as corrugated cardboard boxes. If you decide to ship with dry ice, it is even more important to use these kinds of boxes.
Package the Food in a “Cooler”
You can either buy a styrofoam cooler or make your own “cooler” with pieces of styrofoam. Lining the box with styrofoam will keep the inside of the package colder for longer. But make sure the styrofoam is two inches thick (or else it won’t make much of a difference). If you do decide to ship your perishables inside a real styrofoam cooler, you’ll have to put the cooler into its own cardboard shipping box.
Wrap the Perishables
Plastic wrap will keep the perishables intact the best, but you can also use foil. If you want to be extra secure, you can wrap your perishables in a layer of plastic wrap and put a layer of foil over the top. This will keep your perishables from falling apart in case of a rough delivery.
Dry Ice or Frozen Gel Packs?
As mentioned above, you can use either of these options when shipping perishables. But dry ice takes a lot more work.
How to Use Frozen Gel Packs
They are pretty easy to use. Just buy them, freeze them to the temperature you want, then pack them around your perishable food. You should put a layer of frozen gel packs on the bottom of the package then a layer of perishables then a layer of frozen gel packs and so on. Because gel packs don’t stay cold as long as dry ice, use as many as you can fit into the package. This method works for same day delivery or overnight shipping. If your package will take any longer to deliver, you may want to consider dry ice.
How to use Dry Ice
The most important thing to remember when packing with dry ice is that it’s considered a hazardous material. You MUST mark your package with the correct labels when using dry ice.
These labels include:
- “Dry Ice” or “Carbon Dioxide Solid” label
- UN 1845 label showing the package contains hazardous materials
- Class 9 label (This should be on the same side of the package as your UN 1845 label)
- A label that says the net worth of dry ice you’re using. (Dry ice will have the weight written on the package)
You should be able to find all the appropriate labels at your local post office.
Packing Dry Ice
Dry ice releases carbon dioxide gas. If it can’t release this gas, it could explode. So never wrap the dry ice in anything.
This is also why you need to use good quality cardboard boxes so some of that pressure can be released.
Dry ice can cause serious burns, so wear gloves and goggles when handling it. You should also not let it directly touch any of your perishables, which is why you should always wrap your perishables.
When you’re ready to package your perishables, put a layer of dry ice on the bottom of the package. Place the perishables on top and, depending on how many perishables you have, keep alternating between the ice and the perishables.
Always Double Check when Shipping Perishables
If you are ever sure how much dry ice to use or how to package your perishables, double check. Dry ice can cause a lot of damage if it’s not properly handled, so talk to the professionals to make sure you’ve got it right.
Need some help shipping perishables? Get in touch and we’ll help you get those packages where they need to go.