Frequently Asked Questions - Food Preparation, Handling, and Storage

Food preparation, handling and storage information is available at:

Kitchen Companion
USDA. Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Food Storage Guide
North Dakota State University.

Food Keeper
Food Marketing Institute.

Safe Food Handling and Preparation Fact Sheets
USDA. Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Food preparation and Handling
Food Safety Research Information Office (FSRIO)

The FSIS provides the cooking temperature requirements for meat, poultry, and fish. They also provide the temperatures for safe storage of these foods.

For consumer food safety questions contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. It is a toll-free telephone and email service staffed by food safety specialists. Receives and responds to more than 80,000 calls yearly. Extends service to Spanish speakers as well.

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline offers the following recommendations for sending food gifts to U.S armed service members overseas:

  • Dried beef or poultry such as beef jerky, turkey jerky or beef slims are safe to mail. Bacteria can’t grow in foods preserved by removing moisture.
  • Dehydrated soups and drink mixes are lightweight and safe to mail. Condiments such as hot sauce and Cajun seasonings in packets or unbreakable jars are useful for spice lovers.
  • Canned specialties such as corned beef, anchovies, shrimp, dips and cracker spreads make nice treats. Recipients should be cautioned not to use any cans that are damaged or swollen. Foods in glass containers should not be mailed because they can break.
  • Dense and dry baked goods such as fruit cakes and biscotti are good choices for mailing because they will not mold. Other suitable baked goods include commercially packaged cakes and cookies in airtight tins, dry cookies such as ginger snaps and specialty crackers.
  • High-moisture baked goods such as pumpkin bread -- while safe at room temperature for a few days -- should not be mailed because they will most likely mold before delivery. Fragile foods like delicate cookies won’t make the trip intact. When mailing firm cookies and homemade candies, wrap each piece individually and pack items in commercially popped corn, Styrofoam packing "peanuts" or foam to help cushion the trip. Place the food gifts in a sturdy box and seal it securely with packing tape.
  • Dried fruits such as raisins and apricots, canned nuts and fruit and commercially packaged trail mix need no refrigeration.
  • Hard candies and sturdy homemade sweets such as pralines and toffee are safe to mail because their high sugar content prevents bacterial growth.

As an alternative to homemade gifts, some families may wish to send a military member’s favorite mail order foods. Shelf stable beef “summer sausage,” cheeses, cakes and snacks can be ordered on the Internet or through mail order catalogues. Because of the delivery time and distances between the U.S. and duty stations overseas, do not order any food gifts that must be kept refrigerated for safety.

For additional information please see the following resources:

There are several sites which provide information to truckers involved in food transport. The Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference held by the American Trucking Associations provides a unique opportunity to speak with industry professionals and experienced food transporters.

Listed below are additional sources for food transport safety: