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How To Mail Perishable Items Safely?

Perishable items are amongst the most challenging commodities to handle, particularly when shipping them through mail. These items have a limited lifespan and require special care to maintain their freshness and quality during transportation.

In this in-depth guide, we will delve into every aspect of mailing perishable items, offering a detailed step-by-step process and addressing key considerations. Let's dive right in.


What Are Perishable Items?


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Before we delve into the process of mailing perishable items, let's first understand what they are.

Perishable goods or perishable items, in simple terms, refer to goods that have a limited lifespan and tend to spoil or decay rapidly when subjected to unfavorable conditions. This broad category encompasses various types of products that are susceptible to deterioration. While the most familiar perishable items are food products like dairy, canned food, frozen food, baked goods, meat, fruits, vegetables, and prepared meals, there are other items that fall into this category as well.

Beyond food, perishable items can include pharmaceuticals, which may lose their effectiveness or become unsafe if not stored properly. Hazardous materials, such as certain chemicals or substances, can also be perishable and pose risks if they degrade over time. Additionally, flowers and plants are considered perishable due to their delicate nature and limited lifespan. In some cases, live organisms like insects or small animals may also be classified as perishable, as they require specific conditions to survive.


A Step-by-Step Guide on Mailing Perishable Items


Now that you know what perishable items are, here is a step-by-step guide on how to mail them:


Step 1: Prepare the Perishable Items for Shipping


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Before you begin to mail perishable items, proper preparation is crucial. Ensure that items are fresh and of high quality at the start. If shipping food, consider freezing or refrigeration before shipping. 

When shipping pharmaceuticals or other perishable items, strictly adhere to the recommended storage conditions by the manufacturers. This step can never be overemphasized as it significantly impacts the lifespan of your items during transit.


Step 2: Package the Product Properly


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The right packaging is essential to maintain the quality of your perishable items during transit. Here's a step-by-step process to package these goods safely:


  •  Wrap the Product


Some perishable items, especially frozen foods, need to be wrapped individually before being placed in the shipping box. This is to prevent cross-contamination and also to help retain moisture and freshness to ensure food safety. Plastic cling film, plastic wrap, or food-grade packaging bags are suitable for this purpose.


  • Use Insulating Materials

After wrapping the product, use high-grade insulating materials to maintain the temperature. While styrofoam boxes are commonly used for their excellent insulation properties, you can also opt for insulated liners that fit perfectly into standard shipping boxes, offering an additional protective layer. As an alternative, you can use an insulated foam container as well.


  • Introduce Coolants


Next, introduce coolants. Depending on your perishable item type and its transit duration, the choice of coolant can vary. Frozen gel packs are a versatile option suitable for most perishable food items and pharmaceuticals. For items that demand extremely low temperatures, dry ice packs are the preferred choice. Regardless of the coolant you choose, seal it effectively to prevent any leakages.


  • Seal the Package


After placing your perishable items and coolants inside, it's time to seal the package securely. Use packing tape to secure all openings and reinforce corners and edges for added protection.


  • Add Extra Cushioning


Introduce cushioning material such as air pillows or crumpled paper around the items to effectively minimize movement during transit and reduce the chances of damage.


  • Place the Package Inside an External Box


Lastly, place the insulated box inside a sturdy external perishable shipping box. This additional layer helps protect your perishable items from physical damage.


Step 3: Correctly Label the Package


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Correct labeling is essential in the mailing process. Clearly mark your package as 'Perishable' to ensure carriers handle it appropriately. Include any specific instructions on the label for proper handling and storage. This could involve temperature instructions, upright handling instructions, or other essential directions related to the item's safekeeping.


Step 4: Choose the Right Carrier


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Choosing the right carrier is an essential step when shipping perishables. Not all shipping carriers are equal, particularly when it comes to handling goods that require careful attention. It's important to select a carrier with a proven track record of handling perishable items, as they'll have established procedures and the necessary equipment to keep your items in optimal condition during transit.

Furthermore, the carrier's customer service can play a significant role in your shipping experience. The carrier should be able to provide you with timely updates about your shipment's progress and be responsive to any concerns or issues that you might have. Prompt and effective customer service can alleviate stress and offer reassurances throughout the shipping process.

Lastly, it's important to consider whether the carrier offers insurance for your goods. Shipping insurance will protect you against financial losses if your items get damaged or lost during transit.


Step 5: Choose the Right Shipping Method


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After packing and labeling your perishable items properly and choosing the right carrier, the next crucial step is choosing the right shipping method. Different items require different shipping methods based on their nature and the length of transit.

For items that need to be delivered within a day or two, consider using overnight or express shipping. Although this can be costlier, it ensures your items arrive fresh and in good condition. However, if the items can survive longer transit times, standard shipping methods may be suitable.


Step 6: Adhere to Local and International Laws and Regulations


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Before you ship perishable foods and other perishable items, it's essential to get acquainted with the laws and regulations applicable both locally and internationally. Some items, such as certain perishable foods or toxic types of hazardous material, may be restricted or banned from being shipped to specific destinations. Furthermore, carriers often have their own guidelines that shippers must follow.

In the case of international shipments, customs regulations are another crucial factor to consider. Be ready to provide the necessary documentation and accurately declare your items on the customs form. Non-compliance can lead to severe consequences, including delays, fines, or confiscation.


Step 7: Communicate With the Recipient


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Lastly, communication with the recipient is essential to ensure they are prepared to receive the perishable items and handle them correctly upon arrival. Inform them of the delivery date, any special handling instructions, and what to do if there are any issues with the package upon arrival. 

Additionally, to ensure the safety of the product, notify the recipient of the recommended temperature range that needs to be maintained. A food thermometer can be used to easily verify and maintain this temperature range.




Shipping perishable items is a task that demands diligence, understanding, and meticulous preparation. With the right knowledge of your perishable goods, proper preparation, strategic packaging, and a suitable carrier, the process becomes manageable and efficient.

Now that you're equipped with the knowledge, let Nice Packs elevate your shipping experience. With our high-quality dry ice packs and sturdy shipping boxes, your items will maintain their freshness and reach their destination in optimal condition. So whether you plan to ship food or other items, Nice Packs has your back. Shop with us today.

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