How do you know if your meal kits are safe to eat?
Meal Kits are a convenient and delicious way to enjoy home-cooked meals without the hassle of grocery shopping, meal planning or food waste. However, not all meal kits are created equal, and some may pose food safety risks if not handled properly. How do you know if the meal kits you order online are safe and healthy? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some tips to help you avoid potential food safety risk and enjoy your meal kit with confidence. Here are five red flags to watch out for when ordering meal kits online:
Research companies before you buy. Not all meal kit companies are created equal. Some may have better food safety practices than others. Before you place an order, do some research on the company’s website, social media, or customer reviews. Look for information about how the source handles, packages, and ships their ingredients. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the company directly and ask for more details.
Track packages straight to your door. Most meal kits are shipped in insulated boxes with ice packs or dry ice to keep the food cold during transit. However, if the package is delayed, damaged, or left outside for too long, the food may spoil or become unsafe to eat. To prevent this, track your package online and make sure someone is home to receive it as soon as possible. If you can’t be home, arrange for a neighbor, friend, or family member to pick up the package for you.
Inspect for damage to the box. When you receive your meal kit, inspect the box for any signs of damage, such as tears, holes, leaks, or stains. If the box is damaged, it may indicate that the food inside is also damaged or contaminated. Do not open or use any food that is damaged or looks suspicious. Contact the company immediately and report the problem. They may offer you a refund, a replacement, or credit for your next order.
Look for cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria or allergens are transferred from one food to another. This can happen if raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs come in contact with ready-to-eat foods, such as salads, fruits, or breads. To prevent cross-contamination, check that the ingredients in your meal kit are separated and sealed in individual bags or containers. If any of the bags or containers are open or leaking, do not use them. Wash your hands and any utensils, cutting boards, or surfaces that touch raw foods before handling other foods.
Check if your cold foods are received cold, E.G., Meat and Fish. One of the most crucial factors in food safety is temperature. Cold foods should be kept at 40°F or below to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. The meat and fish in your meal kit when it arrives at your front door should still have some ice crystals remaining on the surface. To check if your cold foods are cold enough, use a food thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the food. If the temperature is above 40°F, do not eat. Contact the company and report the issue.
Meal kits can be a great option for busy people who want to enjoy home-cooked meals without the hassle of grocery shopping, meal planning, or food waste. However, they also require some attention and care to ensure food safety and quality. By following these tips and looking out for these red flags, you can make sure your meal kit is safe and delicious.
[5 Red Flags to Look for When Shopping for Meal Kits | FDA] (https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/5-red-flags-look-when-shopping-meal-kits)
[Holiday Food Safety | FDA] (https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/holiday-food-safety)
[Food Delivery Safety | CDC] (https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/food-safety-meal-kits.html)
[Are Meal Delivery Services FDA-Regulated? - Very Well Health] (https://www.verywellhealth.com/are-meal-delivery-services-fda-regulated-6742757)
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