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United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700

Mail Order Food Safety

Updated April 15, 2004

Sending Perishable Food by Mail

Ordering a mail order gift? Plan ahead. Follow these important food safety tips.

  1. Refrigerated foods must be mailed cold or frozen in a foam or heavy cardboard box with a cold source included.

  2. Make sure the package is labeled "Keep Refrigerated." Provide an accurate delivery address.

  3. Request overnight delivery.

  4. Alert the recipient that "the gift is in the mail."

  5. Don't send refrigerated food to the workplace. Refrigeration may not be available.

Thumbnail of mail order infographic, showing tips 1-5 listed above. Links to PDF version.

Click to view, or right-click to download, this graphic with the 5 important mail order tips. It is a PDF file.

A "Focus" piece with important information to help the purchaser and recipient know whether the perishable foods have been handled properly.

A fact sheet from the Partnership for Food Safety Education's Fight BAC!™ campaign, which gives safety tips when mailing and receiving perishable foods (leaving this site)

  • The Buffet Bonanza: Keeping Food Safe
    Page 1
    (PDF file, 1776 KB, 1 page when printed)
    Page 2 (PDF file, 2255 KB, 1 page when printed)

A brochure, also from the Partnership for Food Safety Education, which provides food safety tips to guard your buffet table from "BAC" (bacteria) (leaving this site)

USDA Gives Tips on Sending Food Gifts to U.S. Military (March 17, 2003)

USDA’S Meat And Poultry Hotline Offers Advice For Mail Order Food Safety (November 28, 2000)

  • Video News Feature
    The video news feature, "Sending Perishable Food by Mail," is available from the Meat and Poultry Hotline in both Beta and VHS formats. Tips are given for consumers who are sending or receiving perishable food gifts. To request a copy, call (202) 720-5604 or send an e-mail to mphotline.fsis@usda.gov.

  • To Contact the Meat and Poultry Hotline

*Note: To read and print a PDF file, you must have the Adobe® Acrobat® Reader installed on your PC. You can download a version suitable for your system, free of charge, from the Adobe Home Page. Adobe also provides tools and information to help make Adobe PDF files accessible to users with visual disabilities at http://access.adobe.com.

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For Further Information, Contact:

Meat and Poultry Hotline:

FSIS Food Safety Education Staff

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