Sending food and drink: What you need to consider
While we all have different tastes, food is something that unifies people. Whatever it is that you like to get your teeth into, a care package filled with your favourite treats is one of the best things you could possibly receive in the post. By the same rule, it's also one of the best things you could send to a friend or loved one - but there are a few things you might want to consider before getting stuck in.
Check the appropriate prohibited/restricted lists
Think first about what it is you're sending and whether it breaches any postal legislation. If the recipient is also in the UK, you're free to send most food items if they're packaged correctly, but any drinks with alcohol content higher than 70% ABV aren't included in this. The sending of spirits (whisky, vodka, rum, for example) is generally allowed but senders should follow the standard guidelines regarding all other liquid items - each must be enclosed in a leak-proof liner before being posted.
If you're sending items to somebody overseas, there will likely be a few more restrictions to bear in mind. Be sure to check the website of the destination country's postal service to see what they're waiting to intercept.
Think about delivery times
It's ok to send perishable items to other people in the UK but only do so if they're going to withstand a journey of up to 48 hours. For this reason, it's best to go for first class delivery if your package contains anything like fresh fruit, vegetables or frozen/chilled foodstuffs. If you are sending any of these items, be sure to write the word 'PERISHABLES' clearly on the outside of the package. As is the case with liquids, all perishable items must be suitably sealed to prevent leakage damaging other packages in transit.
Unfortunately, timing issues also mean that perishables can't be sent overseas - regardless of whether the destination country is in the EU or not. Nobody wants a rotting apple, however long they've had to go without their favourite Granny Smiths.
Firstly, try to keep foods in their original packaging to avoid any confusion; this is especially important for overseas shipping, as your parcel will be making its way through some thorough customs checks on the way to the recipient.
You'll want to protect your items properly, so shun packaging paper in favour of a sturdy and roomy box. Then, after putting everything inside, stuff any gaps with newspaper or sponge to keep internal movement to a minimum. This should help to ensure your food makes it through to the intended recipient unharmed.
Of course, all of the points above are important but if there's one thing you do before sending food to a friend or relative, it should be to make sure it's delicious! Bon appétit.
Also see our related content...
Sending parcels to the UK
Sending parcels internationally