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Dangerous Deliveries: How Meal Kits May Pose a Risk to Food Safety

By Dilia Narduzzi

Meal kits — boxes delivered to your doorstep containing recipes and ingredients to make home-cooked meals — have been gaining steam in the food market since companies like Europe’s Hello Fresh and the US’s Blue Apron launched in North America in the early 2010s. Increases also occurred during the pandemic, as consumers purchased kits when people were staying and eating at home. A report published in November of 2020 out of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University and the app Caddle found that 12.8 percent of Canadians used a meal kit service in the six months preceding the survey; almost 5 million Canadians.

It is still incumbent on the shipper to package the food in a way that ensures it reaches the consumer where the safety of that food has not been compromised.

With the ever growing popularity of meal kits established, how do they rate overall in terms of food safety? Like many things, “it varies,” says Dr. William Hallman, Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University, and an expert in food safety. “There are some companies that do it really well. These ones take food safety and quality seriously.” The big players in the market have incentive to keep their customers safe, to ensure repeat business and company integrity. The process can also happen “improperly and at less expense,” says Hallman. There’s the worry that smaller companies can decide, “‘is this an easy way to get into business and make some money,’ and they fly under the radar,” says Dr. Donald Schaffner, Professor in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University, and an expert in food microbiology.

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