Spoiler Alert: The Hidden Danger of Meal Kits & How To Avoid It
Meal kit subscriptions have been a trend on the rise, and experienced exponential growth during the COVID-19 quarantine as more people leaned into the convenience of having prepared ingredients delivered right to their front door. In fact, sales doubled for the month of April this year as compared to last, to the tune of $100 million according to Nielsen. Since then, a lot of customers have embraced this option, prioritizing convenience and limited exposure risk as opposed to going to a grocery store. But the question now is, are we swapping one danger for another?
THE DANGER ZONE
Think about the process these orders undergo to get to our doors. The food is packaged with frozen gel packs or dry ice to retain its freshness during the shipment journey, which can take up to a day or even more. It’s then delivered at our front door where it sits out in the elements until someone brings it inside, and puts the contents properly in the refrigerator. If no one is around to receive them right away, these boxes can sit for hours on end, getting warmer as the ice and gel packs slowly wear off.
As the ingredients rise in temperature, they risk spoilage and ultimately put our health at risk. According to the FDA, bacteria like staph, salmonella, and e. coli “grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes.” They call this temperature window “The Danger Zone” and your food can enter it after being left out and not properly cooled in as little as one hour. That means there is precious little time to keep our investments safe for eating.
Diving in deeper, a recent study by a team from Rutgers University and Tennessee State University found that while an overwhelming percentage of customers believe their meal kit is safe, it is actually the opposite. The research revealed that these food boxes are typically left outside for eight hours or more before being opened and refrigerated, and only 5% required a signature for delivery. What that tells us is that people aren’t available soon or often enough to claim these deliveries in real-time, rendering the food unsafe as it sits out on a porch and begins to spoil.
THROWING GOOD MONEY AT BAD FOOD
If you get home and your ingredients have entered the danger zone, there’s nothing to do except throw them away. It’s not only incredible food waste, but it means throwing away a lot of money. On average, these kits can price out at $9 – 12 a meal per person, with premium options reaching $15 a meal per person and meat subscription boxes ranging from $99 to $159 a box or $199 a box if you’re receiving seafood. Tally that over time, and we’re pouring hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars down the drain for spoiled food.
PROTECT YOUR PURCHASE
With all of these pitfalls, how do you protect your food, and ultimately your investment? Convenience shouldn’t have to sacrifice safety, which is why we created DeliverySafe. Our insulated lock box anchors to a front porch and provides a safe, cool spot to receive meal kits, grocery deliveries, take-out orders and more. The moldable cooler liner keeps your food fresh while our high-quality materials and design safeguard your package from the weather outside. For extra cooling power, you can add ice packs that fit comfortably in the liner.
When we created DeliverySafe, size was a big consideration for our team - which is why we built it to house large food boxes. At almost three-feet-long and two-feet-high, it can easily accommodate meal kits of all sizes and complementary ice packs to keep them fresh. It’s the perfect solution for the modern-day lifestyle, where we can easily enjoy restaurant-quality meals from the comfort of our homes, without worrying that the food is safe to eat.
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