Posted on: December 8, 2023

What Are Signs You Should Reject a Food Delivery?

What Are Signs You Should Reject a Food Delivery?

You can be as careful as you can when it comes to protecting your customers from foodborne illnesses, but the fact of the matter is you can't control everything. While you can do everything in your power to keep certain foods separated, you still don't know how that food was handled before it reached your kitchen.

Deciding to refuse faulty seafood, poultry, or beef delivered to your business is crucial to protecting clients' safety. To ensure you provide safe, high-quality food in your facility, offering food service training and having a strategy is essential. A faulty meat shipment could endanger many people's lives. In this article, we will go over how to spot the signs of low-quality food and some of the reasons why you should decline a food delivery.

What Are Signs You Should Reject a Food Delivery?

When it comes to any food delivery, keep an eye out for shipments that arrive in bad condition, with damaged packaging, at the incorrect temperature, or with missing documentation. Refusing to accept food shipments under these conditions protects both your consumers and your food business from foodborne illnesses.

Any indication of tampering or food spoiling must be addressed immediately. If food handlers are not adequately trained, the danger of accepting potentially hazardous goods increases. Food safety considerations like storage, handling, and delivery are top issues when purchasing food supplies.

When to Reject Meat, Poultry, or Seafood Shipment

When it comes to food inspection, there is one area where you never want to fall short that is in reviewing a meat, poultry, or seafood shipment. Spoiled meat is hazardous to consume because it may contain pathogenic bacteria that cause foodborne diseases. Fever, vomiting, stomach pains, and diarrhea are among the symptoms.

These are not things you want weighing down your conscience. It is essential to handle delivered food carefully for everyone, especially if the food you are purchasing goes to someone more susceptible to food poisoning:

  • Adults aged 65 and up
  • Children under the age of five
  • People with compromised immune systems or have been weakened by medical diseases or medications used to treat them, such as those suffering from diabetes, liver or kidney disease, HIV, or cancer.
  • Pregnant people

Here are some obvious signs to look out for:

Keep an Eye Out for Damage of Any Kind

Examine all of the packaging in any given shipment. If you need an extra pair of hands, hire someone to assist you. Meat, poultry, and seafood must be carefully packaged to remain fresh and usable. Some of the visual indications of fresh meat, poultry, or seafood that should be rejected are as follows:

  • Broken or damaged packaging or cartons
  • Dirty wrappers
  • Any color spots that are purple, white, brown, or green
  • Soft-looking flesh
  • Sunken fish eyes
  • Fresh shellfish with open shells

When it comes to public health, it's always better to be safe than sorry. You should also decline a package if it is not frozen when it should be, is discolored, or is leaking fluid. Make sure that all labels are intact and that all containers are sealed. If you are ever in doubt, consider hiring a food safety specialist.

The Nose Knows: Look Out for Bad Smells

We know that meat in large amounts does not have the best smell. Your cargo of meat, however, should not smell particularly bad. This indicates a significant problem. A single piece of rotten meat can ruin an entire batch. Germs spread, so make sure you keep all of your products as clean as possible.

Too Hot to Handle: The Temperature Is Wrong

One of the most important factors of a beef shipment is its temperature. Bacteria multiply quickly in warm environments, which is why meat must be kept cold. Fresh meat such as lamb, pork, poultry, and seafood should all be kept at 40°F or lower. Shellfish should be chilled to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Even food stored out of the refrigerator for as little as two hours can quickly spoil.

To determine the temperature of the meat, use a meat thermometer. Any food in the "danger zone" or exceeding the abovementioned temperatures should be rejected. In the following section, we will go over how to check temperatures further.

Something's Off: It's the Texture

Certain foods have textural issues that can be major indicators of serious problems. Raw fish, meat, and poultry should never be slimy, sticky, or dry. The meat should not be overly tender or maintain the form of your hand when touched.

How to Best Inspect Your Food Service Delivery

Check the Temperature

The temperatures of products should be checked upon delivery. Anything that does not fall within the specified range should be rejected.

  • Cold Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) food should be received at 41°F or lower.
  • Milk can be received at 45°F or lower (must be cooled to 41°F or lower within four hours).
  • Shell eggs should be received at 45°F or lower.
  • Hot TCS food should be received at a temperature of 135°F or greater.
  • Frozen foods should be solidly frozen when delivered.

If there are fluid stains on the package or the bottom of the case, reject the frozen food. This is an obvious sign that the food was not being stored at the proper temperature. Also, if there is any indication of thawing and refreezing, such as ice or frozen fluid on the product or packaging, reject it. Thawing and refreezing signs are time-temperature abuse. Large ice crystals and fluid stains at the bottom of the carton or packaging material may indicate thawing.

If frozen foods were thawed during delivery, potential pathogenic germs could multiply, leading to sooner spoiling. Discolored meats may indicate that the frozen meat food products have already come into contact with air.

Inspect the Food Packaging

During food service delivery, food packaging should constantly be inspected. Any package with holes or tearing should be returned. Any canned goods with bulging ends should be avoided. Anything that has a broken seal, a missing label, or is unclean should not be accepted. Do not accept any products that appear to have been tampered with.

Evaluate the Food Quality

The quality of the food you purchase is critical. Food handlers must inspect goods and reject food deliveries if they notice any of the following:

  • Discoloration in fruits, vegetables, and meats
  • Rotten, acidic, or unusual odor
  • Soft or mushy texture
  • Condensation found in dry foods
  • Slime formation on meat
  • Freezer burn
  • Visible pests or pest damage
  • Visible yeast or mold growth

Some items may have specific criteria that must be examined. When receiving raw shell eggs, for example, you must refuse the delivery if they have a bad smell and arrive with a shipment temperature within the temperature danger zone.

If your food passes your or your employees' temperature and visual assessment, it should be promptly placed in suitable commercial refrigeration to assure its continuous safety. Always double-check to ensure that the quality standards your organization has for receiving deliveries are being met.

Specific Signs to Look Out for When it Comes to Fish and Poultry Delivery  

Notify the food handler in charge right away as soon as your fish delivery arrives. If the shipment does not arrive frozen solid, refuse raw fish deliveries such as sushi or sashimi. You should also reject fish deliveries if the holding temperature exceeds the recommended cold holding conditions. Do not accept fish delivery with a bad smell, pale gills, hazy eyes, or mushy flesh.

Poultry and poultry products are considered perishable and very susceptible to contamination. Poultry is particularly associated with salmonella, one of the most common bacteria responsible for foodborne illness. As a result, poultry product inspection must adhere to very strict guidelines.

Here is a list of situations in which fresh chicken cargo should be rejected:

  • Discoloration on any of the birds, meaning poultry with purple or green markings around the neck.
  • Slime or stickiness on the skin or around the joints
  • Terrible smell

These damaged poultry traits are frequently the result of storage within the temperature danger zone. It makes no difference if the chicken products are loaded fresh if the delivery conditions are subpar. Do not accept the poultry when any of the above conditions are noted on a delivery. Document the incident as soon as possible and notify the supplier.

Always Check the Food Safety Documents

Food safety documents are required for any food shipment. These documents demonstrate the supplier's compliance with your food safety standards and criteria. Specifications and results of relevant tests performed on food must be made available to ensure food safety.

The provider must always provide information such as:

  • Date of manufacturing
  • Expiry date
  • Ingredient declaration
  • Allergy presence
  • Lot codes
  • Verification of nutritional claim

If these documents are at all incomplete, that is a good sign to reject the delivery. When defective items are discovered, it is the responsibility of the appointed food handler to document the issue and provide the relevant reports to support the return decision.

Food handlers cannot return products after rejecting a shipment without sufficient documentation and a rationale for the decision. After notifying the supplier, a comprehensive investigation must be conducted to determine the root cause of the spoilage.

In the event of a return, suppliers need to specify the exact conditions. Before consenting to these, make certain that you have conveyed your demands. The following are some examples of common documentation works that you may require:

  • Shipment information - such as the vehicle’s plate number and driver and the time and date of delivery.
  • State of products upon arrival - this should include pictures of the products and a description of the food handler
  • Food handler assessment of the situation - documentation of the reason for rejecting the shipment as well as any non-compliance.

Proper documentation will keep you and your team from having to deal with unforeseen consequences and the horrors of legal red tape.

Managing Your Food Shipments

Before putting incoming meat, poultry, or seafood in its correct storage, a proper inspection should be performed using a detailed manual. Take the food's temperature, check that its packaging is secure, and make sure it appears to be appropriate as part of this inspection.

 You can ask the network of distributors providing the food for a history of the transportation and quality inspections conducted as an extra measure of safety. With the right measures, including sufficient sanitation and systems in place along the entire distribution channel, the safety of the food may be protected. The only method to stop potentially rotten and hazardous disease growth is to do this. In order to ensure their safety, the appropriate temperature must then be maintained throughout the shipping process.

Want to make sure your staff is properly trained to spot the signs of low-quality food? Enroll them in our food handlers training program today!