Home-delivery meal kits have marketed their services as convenient and sustainable, with many companies providing pre-measured ingredients to minimize food waste; however, a study by Rutgers University and Tennessee State University left researchers questioning the integrity of the services, especially those that deliver meat.
In the study, according to Bill Hallman, a professor at Rutgers, researchers ordered 169 meal kits, with 271 meat items, 235 seafood items, 133 game items, and 39 poultry items, and interviewed 1,002 consumers, Food Safety News reported.
While 95 percent of respondents said they thought meal delivery services were safe, researchers found that only 5 percent of deliveries require a signature, meaning products can be left out for potentially eight hours or more before the ingredients make it to the refrigerator. According to Hallman, delivery services such as FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service don’t claim responsibility for the products if they perish — nor do the vendors who use those services, meaning the responsibility for timely and safe delivery is left ambiguous.
The study also found that only 42 percent of meal kit companies provide information on food safety. For example, Hallman said that one vendor informs consumers that meat is safe to eat if it is “cool to the touch,” which is not an accepted safety standard. Researchers also warn that leaving meat, poultry, and seafood products in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to high levels of microbial pathogens.