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How to Safely Ship Frozen Perishable Items Without Freezing

How to Safely Ship Frozen Perishable Items Without Freezing


Shipping frozen perishable items can be a nerve-wracking experience. The last thing anyone wants is for the frozen item to arrive at its destination spoiled, melted, or leaking. While freezing is a popular option to keep these items fresh, it's not always practical or desirable. For instance, constant freezing may damage some items, or the recipient may not have access to a freezer. However, there are several ways to ship perishable frozen products without freezing them.

In this blog post, we'll discuss different ways to mail frozen perishable items without freezing them. We'll also explore how to choose the right packaging, pack the item, and pick the appropriate shipping carrier. Let's get started.


The Challenges of Shipping Frozen Products


 frozen green peas

Credit: Envato Elements/ GitaKulinica


Before delving into the specifics of how to send frozen products across borders, it is important to understand the challenges involved in transporting these items in a frozen state. These challenges include:


1) Maintaining Consistent Temperatures


To ensure the safety and quality of frozen products during shipping, it is crucial to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the entire shipping process. Ideally, frozen products should be kept at a temperature of 0°F (-18°C) or below, as this temperature helps to inhibit bacterial growth and prevent spoilage. However, maintaining this low temperature can be challenging during shipping, especially when products are being transported over long distances or through varying climates. 


2) High Cost


Shipping frozen products can be more expensive than shipping non-perishable items due to the additional requirements for packaging, insulation, and temperature control. The cost of these materials can add up quickly, particularly for businesses that need to ship large quantities of such products. In addition, faster shipping methods may be necessary to ensure that these products remain frozen during transit, which can further increase shipping costs.


3) Weather Conditions


Weather conditions can also pose a significant challenge when shipping frozen products. High temperatures and humidity can make it difficult to maintain the required temperature during shipping, even with the use of special packaging and insulation. This can be particularly problematic during the summer months or when shipping to warmer climates.


4) Legal Liability


Shipping frozen products carries a certain degree of liability for businesses. If products spoil or are damaged during shipping, businesses may be held responsible for any resulting losses. This can be particularly problematic if the products are intended for human consumption, as food safety is a top concern.


5) Damage to Reputation


Shipping frozen products can have a significant impact on a business's reputation. Ensuring that the frozen products arrive at their destination in good condition and meet the highest standards for quality and food safety is essential to build customer trust and loyalty. On the other hand, shipping mishaps or product spoilage can hurt the brand's reputation and lead to a loss of customer trust.


How to Ship Frozen Products Without Freezing Them


 shipping model depicting planes and trucks

Credit: Envato Elements/ innu_asha84


Wondering how to ship a frozen product without actually freezing it? Here's how to do it:


1) Understand the Requirements of the Product


Before you even consider shipping frozen perishable items, it is essential to understand the specific needs of the products you are sending. Frozen perishable items can include different foods, frozen fruit and vegetables, frozen meat products, frozen baked goods, frozen pre-prepared meals, and other time-sensitive goods. Each of these categories has unique requirements regarding temperature control, packaging, and shipping duration. Research and familiarize yourself with the needs of your frozen products to ensure a smooth shipping experience.


2) Choose the Right Shipping Carrier


When it comes to shipping frozen perishable items, not all carriers are equipped to handle these types of products. It is crucial to choose a shipping provider that specializes in frozen shipments or has experience with temperature-sensitive items, such as FedEx, UPS, or USPS. When making a choice, make sure to investigate all your options and choose one that offers appropriate services, such as cold chain logistics or temperature-controlled packaging.


3) Choose the Right Shipping Method


When sending frozen perishables without freezing them, it's important to select the appropriate shipping method based on the product's perishability. There are several shipping options available depending on the urgency and temperature requirements of the item. Here are some of the most common shipping methods:


  • Express Shipping: This method is suitable for frozen products that require urgent delivery, such as frozen fresh foods. Express shipping guarantees that the shipment will arrive at its destination within a specific time frame.
  • Standard Shipping: Standard shipping is a cost-effective option for frozen products that are not time-sensitive. This method may take longer than express shipping, but it's still a reliable option. However, it may not be the best option for packages that are likely to spoil due to melting. 
  • Priority Mail: Priority mail is an option offered by USPS and UPS. This option is suitable for frozen products that require expedited delivery but are not as urgent as express shipping. 


3) Choose the Right Packaging


Choosing the right packaging is essential when shipping frozen perishable items. The right packaging ensures that the shipment is protected during transit, and stays at the ideal temperature. Here are some tips for selecting the right packaging:


  • Choose Packaging That Has Insulation Material: When it comes to shipping frozen items, it is important to select packaging materials with superior insulation properties to maintain the appropriate temperature. If you are shipping a frozen meal, you will need packaging material that can effectively keep the food frozen throughout transit. 
  • Use an Outer Box: To enhance the protection of frozen packages during shipping, it is advisable to use an outer box. This additional layer of packaging not only provides extra insulation but also shields the inner packaging from potential damage during transit. Moreover, the outer box can also help prevent any leaks or spills from occurring. 
  • Consider the Box Size and Type: Selecting the appropriate size and type of box for your shipment is crucial. The size of the box should be suitable for the item being shipped, and it must be sturdy enough to withstand any shocks or jolts that may occur during transit. Moreover, it is essential to choose a box size that prevents the item from moving around or shifting inside the box during shipping. 


4) Use Cold Packs Strategically


Maintaining the temperature of frozen perishable items during shipping is crucial, and using cold packs is an excellent way to achieve this without having to freeze the shipment.  However, selecting the appropriate type of cold pack is important. Gel packs and dry ice packs are both popular options, each with its advantages and disadvantages. 

Gel packs are a reliable option for maintaining the temperature of frozen perishable items during shipping. They are non-toxic and simple to handle, making them a preferred choice for many shippers. Additionally, they can be reused multiple times, which makes them a cost-effective solution for businesses that regularly ship frozen goods. However, it's essential to keep in mind that gel packs may not stay cold as long as dry ice packs, which can be a drawback if the shipping process is lengthy. Furthermore, these cold packs require more preparation time than dry ice packs. 

Dry ice packs are a preferred option when shipping products that require extremely cold temperatures. These packs can maintain temperatures that are much colder than regular ice or gel packs. Dry ice is also capable of lasting longer than gel packs and traditional ice packs, which is beneficial for longer shipping processes. However, it's important to note that dry ice packs may be excessively cold for certain frozen products and can cause freezer burns. 

Regardless of whether you select gel packs or dry ice packs, it's critical to use them appropriately. Firstly, pre-chill the cold packs and wrap them in protective material to avoid direct contact with the frozen packages. Secondly, distribute the gel or dry ice packs evenly around the perishable item to ensure that the coldness is evenly distributed. Finally, make sure to use an adequate amount of cold packs to maintain the temperature throughout the shipping process.


5) Pack Your Frozen Item


Once you have selected the right packaging and the right coolant, it's time to pack your frozen shipment. Here's how to do it:


Prepare the Item: Before packing the frozen shipment, it is essential to ensure that the item has been refrigerated for an appropriate length of time to attain its optimal temperature for shipping. During this step, you can also wrap the shipment securely with plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or zip-lock bags.

Secure the Packaging: The packaging should be secured tightly to prevent any leaks or spills. To do this, you can use packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and even newspaper.

Label the Package: It's important to label the package with the destination address and return address, to guarantee that it is delivered to the correct recipient. Additionally, it is vital to label the shipment as "Perishable" to inform the shipping carrier of its contents and ensure that appropriate care is taken during transit. 

Add the Coolant: Add the gel pack or dry ice pack to the package, making sure it's placed on top of or next to the frozen item. This ensures that the product stays cool during transit.

Seal the Package: Once the frozen item and the coolants are securely in place, seal the package tightly with packing tape to keep your perishable items fresh and free from contamination. Additionally, seal any gaps in your packaging to prevent air from entering or escaping. 


6) Check the Weather Forecast Before You Ship Your Goods 


Lastly, before shipping your frozen perishable items, take note of the weather conditions at your location and your destination. Extreme weather conditions, such as freezing temperatures or heat waves, can affect the overall shipping process. If possible, avoid shipping during these times or choose a shipping provider with temperature-controlled facilities and vehicles.


Factors to Consider When Shipping Frozen Products


 frozen burgers thawing

Credit: Envato Elements/ Chibelek


When shipping frozen packages, it's important to take extra care to ensure that the items arrive at their destination safely and without thawing. Here are some factors to consider when shipping products like this:


1) Temperature Monitoring


Monitoring and maintaining the temperature of frozen perishable items during transit is crucial for their preservation. Many carriers offer temperature-controlled shipping services, which can be tailored to the specific temperature requirements of your package. Alternatively, you can purchase your own temperature monitoring devices, such as digital data loggers, to keep track of the temperature throughout the journey. If any temperature fluctuations or issues are observed, it's essential to contact the carrier immediately, allowing them to address the problem and ensure the frozen perishables arrive on time and in optimal condition.


2) Quality of Frozen Products


The quality of frozen products significantly affects their shelf life and the satisfaction of the recipient. Before shipping, ensure that the product is thoroughly frozen and well-packaged. If the product is not adequately frozen, it may thaw during transit, leading to spoilage or diminished quality. This is especially true for frozen food products, where even minor temperature changes can have a significant impact on the quality and safety of the product. 


3) Communicate with the Recipient


If you're shipping perishables as a gift or to a customer, be sure to communicate with the recipient. Let them know when the package is expected to arrive and any special instructions for handling the frozen products. This will help ensure that the items are handled properly and consumed while they're still fresh.


4) Check Local Regulations


Before shipping frozen perishables, it's vital to verify and comply with the regulations in both the shipping location and the destination. Some frozen products may be subject to restrictions, prohibitions, or special permits, particularly when shipping across borders or internationally. Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and documentation needed to avoid any legal complications or delays in the shipping process


5) Get Insured


Shipping perishable items, particularly frozen products, can be expensive and involve some degree of risk. To safeguard your investment and gain peace of mind, consider purchasing shipping insurance. Insurance coverage can protect you from financial losses in case your shipment gets lost, damaged, or experiences delays during transit. Research different options and choose a policy that provides adequate coverage for the value of your items and the potential risks associated with their shipping.


How to Handle Thawed Items


 frozen cranberries

Credit: Envato Elements/ valeriygoncharukphoto


Despite taking all necessary precautions while shipping perishable frozen products, there is always a possibility that the items may thaw during transit. This can be particularly concerning, especially if you are shipping items that require specific temperature controls, such as certain types of foods. If your recipient receives thawed items, it is crucial to handle the situation carefully. Here are some tips to consider when dealing with such a situation:


1) Evaluate the Shipment


The first step when handling a thawed package is to evaluate its safety and quality. Depending on the frozen shipment, thawing may have caused it to spoil or become unsafe to consume. Check for signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell, slimy texture, or unusual color. If you are shipping food, use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the item; if it has been exposed to a temperature of 40°F for more than 2 hours, it is no longer safe to consume.


2) Communicate with the Recipient


If you discover that the frozen products have thawed, it is important to communicate with the recipient right away. Let them know what has happened and ask them to inspect the items carefully. Provide guidance on how to evaluate the safety and quality of the frozen items, and ask for their feedback on the condition of the items.


3) Plan the Next Step


Depending on the condition of the frozen products, you may need to take additional steps to ensure the recipient's safety and satisfaction. If the frozen products are still safe to consume, consider offering a refund or replacement to the recipient. If the frozen products are no longer safe to consume, make sure to dispose of them properly and offer a refund or replacement to the recipient.


4) Document the Incident


In the event that frozen perishable items thaw during transit, it is important to document the incident thoroughly. This includes keeping records of the shipping carrier, shipping method, packaging materials, cold packs, and temperature monitoring tools used. If the recipient reports any issues with the frozen products, such as spoilage or damage, be sure to document these as well. This information can be helpful for any potential insurance claims or legal issues that may arise.


5) Learn from the Experience


Finally, it is important to learn from the experience and take steps to prevent thawing from happening in the future. Evaluate your packaging and shipping methods to identify areas for improvement, and consider using additional insulation to help keep items at the correct temperature during transit. By learning from each experience, you can continue to improve your shipping processes and ensure the safe and timely delivery of frozen perishable items.




Shipping frozen perishables, especially frozen food, without freezing them can be a challenge. However, with the right packaging, shipping method, carrier, and temperature management, you can ensure that your items arrive fresh and undamaged.

To make this process easier, Nice Packs provides high-quality dry ice packs engineered to maintain the ideal coolness for your perishables during transit. With our dry ice packs, you can have peace of mind knowing that your products will benefit from unparalleled temperature control, leading to an exceptional shipping experience. Don't settle for anything less than the best—choose Nice Packs dry ice packs today and elevate your shipping game.

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