If you've been ordering home delivered meal kits — or are thinking about it — you need to know about the warnings issued at the 2017 Food Safety Summit at Rutgers University this week, Food & Wine reports.
Speaking at the summit, human ecology professor Bill Hallman warns that our beloved ready-to-make dinner kits are not as safe as we think. He specifically called out the kits with meat as being unsafe.
Hallman and his team studies 169 different services, reviewed 400 websites and spoke with over 1,000 people who'd tried different meal kits. What they learned is surprising.
The biggest safety issue? Most kits sat outside for up to eight hours before being opened and refrigerated. According to the FDA, perishable food should not be kept out for more than two hours. It is important to keep hot foods hot (140 degrees F or above) and cold foods cold (40 degrees F or below).
Of course, delaying opening and storing the meal kits fall on your shoulders, not the service, but Hallman takes issue with the services for not taking responsibility for any food safety concerns when deliveries don't arrive on time, as well FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
The other problem? Many of the websites for these services didn't have any safety information, or it was inaccurate. "Your bison meat may be thawed by the time it gets to you," said Hallman. The instructions continued, "touch the meat and if it is cool to the touch, your order is in good condition," he says. That's not accurate, and very unsafe, Hallman said, adding that "cool to the touch" is not a food safety standard.
The research also concluded that "microbial loads [were]off the charts" in many of the packages, especially those with temperatures of 15 degrees and higher. Yuck
If you're into the ease and new recipe ideas that meal kits deliver, be sure to check their website to find out if they're following food safety standards, and please, please don't let your delivery site outside for eight hours.