Food Safety Tips for Meal Prep Businesses
The meal prep business has made food healthier, more convenient, and sustainable for consumers around the country. More and more people are turning to meal prep businesses to receive healthy, clean, pre-portioned ingredients and well-curated recipes delivered straight to their doors. However, are you doing everything you can as a business to insure safety for your customers? Here are some Food Safety Tips for Meal Prep Businesses to follow to help.
But as the demand for meal prep deliveries continues to rise, there is also an increasing focus placed on how companies are ensuring the food they provide is hygienic and safe.
Every business involved in producing, selling, and transporting food materials is responsible for ensuring their items are safe to consume. They must also ensure their customers are provided with the proper information required to safely store and prepare their food.
Some of the main safety questions people often ask include:
- How is cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods prevented?
- Are packages properly labeled with ingredient information?
- Are proper separation techniques used for allergens?
- Are correct time and temperature controls being followed?
- Are consumers empowered enough to spot food safety issues?
Below, we’ve compiled important food safety tips to ensure you can answer these questions when your customers ask them and deliver them safe and healthy meal kits.
Creating a Food Safety Plan
Food businesses are required by law to have a proper food safety plan based on the 7 Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
The HACCP is a system used to determine potential food safety risks and create control points in each step of the food manufacturing and production process.
Some of the most essential areas that meal prep businesses should focus on as part of their food safety plan are:
- Sourcing ingredients and food supplies from reliable suppliers
- Implementing temperature control procedures in food manufacture and transport
- Implementing preventive measures for cross-contamination
- Including proper labeling on all packages
We’ve covered each of the following areas in more detail below.
- Ingredient Sourcing
It’s imperative for meal prep businesses to verify that their ingredients are sourced from trustworthy, reputable suppliers that follow proper food safety protocols and have transparent production processes.
This is vital for every component included in the meal kit — whether fresh or frozen — and especially for those items meant to be consumed without cooking, such as vegetables and fruits.
The responsibility falls on the prep business to ensure that food supply deliveries are thoroughly checked and rejected if food safety standards are not met.
- Temperature Control
One of the most significant safety concerns food prep businesses have to deal with is the amount of time the food takes to get from the manufacturing facility to the customer’s doorstep.
The food packaging often goes several days without refrigeration, making it the ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria. How fast food can get spoiled during transportation depends on the season, the area of the delivery, and what food items are being transported.
Taking all of this into consideration, it is crucial for food prep businesses to implement thorough packaging protocols that will help food stay at the appropriate temperature during transit.
It’s also crucial to include package labels and detailed instructions to help customers understand the importance of checking for spoiled food and safely storing their meal kit at the right temperature.
Here are some examples of temperature control safety protocols food prep businesses can implement.
- Use vacuum-sealed packaging to limit the growth of harmful bacteria and increase the food’s shelf life.
- Use insulated thermal liners and refrigerants to keep food at the right temperature during transportation.
- Clearly label items as perishable and include best-before dates on all packages.
- Separate foods according to the proper storage temperature — foods that spoil at lower temperatures should be packed and transported separately from refrigerated items.
- Cross Contamination Prevention
Meal kits contain food materials that must be cooked as well as items meant to be eaten raw. They can also include high-risk foods that are more susceptible to bacterial growth, such as seafood, eggs, dairy, and meat.
To prevent cross-contamination during manufacturing, packaging, and transporting of meal kits, food handlers must always:
- Thoroughly sanitize any surfaces where raw meat, seafood, or poultry has been handled
- Always separate meat from ready-to-eat foods
- Use separate chopping boards, pots, utensils, and equipment for storing and cooking raw meat and ready-to-eat food
- Practice proper hygiene habits, such as washing hands, especially after handling raw meat
- Ensure all ingredients are packed separately
- Use additional packaging to separate high-risk foods from those meant to be eaten raw
- Ensure there is no leakage or contact between different food items
- Thoroughly disinfect the interior packaging before assembling the meal kit
- Proper Labeling Practices
Customers are often unaware of the technicalities of how to safely store food they purchase from food prep businesses.
To minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses, businesses must go the extra mile and implement proper labeling and instruction practices to educate customers on food safety. With Sprwt.io you can automatically create labels as orders are generated, with all information about your meals ingredients and allergens, use by dates, and heating instructions.
Here are some examples of what businesses can do to protect their customers:
- Clearly list all ingredients and allergens
- Clearly label how long it is safe to keep ingredients in the refrigerator
- Include proper storage instructions for leftovers and reheating
- Always add best-before/use-by dates
- Add QR codes to packaging so customers can easily access all information in one place
Food Safety Tips for Meal Prep Businesses Simplified
The practices described above are great starting points for meal prep businesses that want to play their role in protecting consumer health and limiting food safety risks.
However, simply following standard procedures is not enough — food business owners must continuously stay up to date with regulatory and software advancements in the food industry.
It’s also important for meal prep businesses to develop a culture of food safety at their establishment. And the most important step in this regard is educating employees on how serious food-borne illnesses can get.
With a proper food safety plan and culture in place, your business can protect customers from dangerous food-borne illnesses and guarantee the success of your brand!
About the author
Eva Maria Hanson, Digital Food Safety Specialist
My mission in FoodDocs is to reverse the misconception of people thinking about food safety as the most boring or scary topic in the business. My target is to educate and inspire everyone who sells or serves food about food safety.