Revised by Pamela Schmutz, HGIC Food Safety Specialist and Angela Fraser, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University, 11/10. Originally prepared by Pamela Schmutz, HGIC Food Safety Specialist and Elizabeth Hoyle, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University, 11/07.
The most important thing to remember when mailing food gifts to U.S. service members overseas is to choose foods that
Recommended Food Gifts The following is a list of suggested food items to send as gifts to military service members. Check with your local post office to see if there are restrictions on food items based on the specific zip code to which you are mailing.
As an alternative to homemade gifts, some families may wish to send a military member’s favorite mail-order food. 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, never order any food that requires refrigeration.
Food Gifts Not Recommended
Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat restrictions are there for sending food to service members in the Persian Gulf? Never send alcoholic beverages to service members stationed in Persian Gulf countries. It is also best to exclude pork and pork products, since they are forbidden for religious reasons in Islamic countries.
I would like to mail a homemade “cake-in-a-jar” to someone in the military. Is this a good idea? No, homemade breads or cakes in a jar are not safe and should not be mailed to service members. Many recipes for quick breads and cakes are low-acid and have the potential for supporting the growth of bacteria, like Clostridium botulinum,if present inside the closed jar. These products are also not recommended for canning. In fact, most of these products are not really “canned”. The directions call for baking in the jar and then closing with a canning lid without processing in any way. When these products are made commercially, additives, preservatives and processing controls not available for home recipes are used. Manufacturers of canning jars also do not endorse baking in their jars, and glass jars are not recommended for mailing.
What are the deadlines for mailing packages for the holidays? The deadline for the most economical postage to overseas military, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, is Nov. 12. For more information from the U.S. Postal Service on dates for mailing holiday packages and cards see Shipping Out the Holidays to Military Heroes http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2010/pr10_092.pdf#search='deadline for mailing packages to military'.
How should packages to the military be addressed? Use the service member’s full name. For security reasons, mail will not be delivered to “Any Serviceman”. Also required is the unit designation and APO/FPO information with the nine-digit Zip code and a return street name and address. Do not include the country or the base camp’s city, as the package might be routed through the host country’s mail system. Place the recipient’s address on one side only of the package, and on the lower right portion.
Tips for Packaging Foods To mail a package overseas, you will have to fill out a customs form listing every item and its value, so be sure you have that information before sealing the package. To request free, special military packaging kits from the U.S. post office, call 1-800-610-8734.
When mailing firm, dry cookies and homemade candies, wrap each piece individually and pack items in commercially-popped, or air-popped, unbuttered popcorn, or foam packing “peanuts”.
The U.S. Postal Service provides these tips:
For more information on mailing foods, see HGIC 3605, Mailing Perishable Foods.
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