Keep your pre-prepared boxed meals safe

It is easy to order food online, but once it is delivered, it is your job to make sure it stays food safe for you and your family.

Home delivered meals or meals in a box seem to be all the rage. I see advertisements everywhere promoting the convenience of these products for busy families, but it is important to remember safe handling practices to prevent foodborne illness.

Leaving food out too long in the “temperature danger zone” (temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit) can cause harmful bacteria to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. When food is left in the temperature danger zone, illness-causing bacteria can double in number in as little as 20 minutes. Remember the two-hour rule: perishable food should not be kept out of refrigeration longer than two hours. If the temperature is above 90 F, perishable foods must not be exposed for more than an hour.

Tips for handling delivered foods:
  • Inspect it immediately – ensure raw meats have not dripped or leaked onto fresh produce, spices or other ready-to-eat foods.
  • Make sure perishable food is received cold or frozen by using an instant read thermometer to check the temperature. Refrigerated food should be 40 F or colder and frozen food should be frozen.
  • Make sure you will be home to receive the delivered food, or arrange for someone to take care of your delivery. You do not want the food left on the porch for any length of time.
  • Foods that are delivered cold should be consumed within two hours, refrigerated or frozen for eating at another time.

Planning for your delivered meals will help maintain freshness and quality for when it comes time to prep and serve. Michigan State University Extension recommends following these food safety practices, to enjoy the convenience these pre-package meals can bring to a busy family. Practicing safe food handling is necessary to help families stay healthy. 

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