How to Ship Meat Using Dry Ice (solid carbon dioxide (CO2)
Steps for Shipping Frozen Meat with Dry Ice as the Cooling Source:
Step #1 - Get Frozen Meat Ready and Into Pre-Cooling Area (if applicable).
When the time comes to put together the complete shipping package, remember to put all meat and supplies in a temperature-controlled area so that no thawing starts and all your supplies are chilled well-below warmer outside air.
Step #2 – Prepare the Styrofoam Shipping Cooler & Outer Corrugated Box for Use
You want to inspect for cleanliness and lack of dust or scuff marks from the truck or warehouse handling. Also, check all other shipping supplies for quality and cleanliness.
Step #3 – Put All Cooling Sources Nearby, Whether Gel Packs or Frozen CO2 (Dry Ice Blocks)
When you remove Dry Ice, Gel Ice Packs, or bags of Water Ice from cold storage, they need to be placed in your order box with the meat quickly because the 'warming' clock begins ticking right then. You need to know ahead of time how much you'll need,
Step #4 – Assemble All Other Shipping Components to go with Meat, Cooler, and Gel Packs
To finish putting together your frozen meat shipping box, you will need the following:
- Heavy-duty Plastic or Plastic Bag Wrapping, with a 2mm-Thickness
- Foam Packing Peanuts, Filler Paper, or other Dunnage to fill empty space and provide cushioning
- Heavy-duty Packaging Tape, 2" wide minimum
- Rubber Bands, Zip Ties, or Clips as Needed for Securing and Tying
- Moisture-absorbing Padding or Soaking Material to deal with any wetness
- Temperature Tracker or Data Logger for keeping a record of temperature fluctuations
- FedEx, UPS, USPS, or other Shipping Carrier Labels and required Regulatory Labels
- Carrier Shipping Label
- Hazardous Material Label (if required)
- UN1845 Dry Ice Shipping Label (when needed) as shown here.**URL INSERT** You'll need permanent markings on the outer packaging including:
Verify with your shipping carrier if there are any special requirements for your operation.
Step #5 - Wrap your meat product in two layers of 2mm Heavy-duty Plastic.
To finish up the cargo portion of your frozen meat shipment, take the 2mm-wrapped product by the top of the plastic holding it, gripping it in your fist, while using the other hand to twist the bottom part around until the handheld portion is twisted tight enough to remove most of the air. When that's done, tie the plastic portion you're holding and use clips or zip ties to double secure it.
Step #6 – Put Padding in the Shipping Cooler Bottom for Moisture Absorption
If you're adding more than one bagged amount, you may require more padding in between, Depending on how you arrange your contents,
Step #7 - Place Cooling Source (or a combination thereof) to encompass the Frozen Meat,
Place your Dry Ice, Gel Ice Packs, or a combination of both within the Styrofoam Shipping Cooler in such a way that you can thereafter place your meat on top for a good fit without too much moving around the room. If there is leftover space, fill the gaps with the dunnage paper, packing peanuts, etc.
Step #8 - Set up any Temperature Tracking Data Loggers
Whether you use thermal tracking devices for testing purposes, or as a normal part of your meat shipping Quality Assurance Program, set them up prior to putting on and tape-sealing the shipping cooler lid. Companies who track closely keep inventory safer, problems fewer, and profits higher.
Step #9 - With Heavy-duty Box Packaging Adhesive Tape, Secure the Shipping Cooler
Strong adhesive box tape is to effectively secure the container lid on all sides. Doing this makes the cooler airtight to prevent warmer outside air from seeping in. Keep tape handy for the outer box.
Step #10 - Take Your Insulated Foam Cooler and Place it in the Corrugated Box for a Snug Fit.
Unless shipping multiple boxes in one, a single box & cooler combo should fit nicely without leaving the excess room. If our box is too big for the cooler, use filler paper, packing peanuts, and such to fill the space.
Step #11 – Finalize the Packaging Process by Taping Shut the Outer Shipping Box in an 'H' pattern
Taping all seams and edges will ensure none of the flaps open and that tape is covering the edges of flaps for thermal integrity.
Step #12 – Place Necessary Markings and Labels for Shipping, Regulatory, or Caution
Once the details of the outer box are ready, you can arrange for its pick-up or drop your packages off at your chosen carrier.
Why Use Dry Ice When Shipping Meat
Dry Ice is another popular cooling source in addition to Gel Ice Packs that are superior to water ice for shipping purposes but differ in that it is manufactured exclusively for keeping perishables completely frozen if the product requires it.
This is especially useful for long-term cold storage items that must not come close to thawing during transit because they need to be stored frozen even after it has been shipped.
Never use Dry Ice for any perishables that must be kept above freezing or which can be damaged by super-low temperatures.
Dry Ice is frozen Carbon Dioxide (CO2) gas that is first liquified under great pressure and then reduced to temperatures so low that it becomes solid, yet when exposed to normal air begins to sublimate rapidly (turn directly from a solid back into a gas) until whatever solid form it took completely disappears.
It is so cold -109.3°F (-78.5°C) that handling it without gloves or other protection can cause frostbite. The package containing the coolant must be arranged so that the gas buildup from evaporation does not cause a breach or other damage due to rapid expansion.
Breathing the gas coming from the evaporating solid can also be dangerous which means you should only open any package containing it in a ventilated area.
These potential hazards are why companies using it must follow strict government, airline, and shipping carrier regulations for their own safety and that of everyone handling the package.
Of course, Dry Ice is too hazardous to use with live animal shipping.
Products like Ice Cream, Cakes, Steaks, Lab Specimens, Vaccines, and others might be perfect candidates for Dry Ice shipping, especially if transit time exceeds 24-48 hours, but the super-low temperature can damage any perishables that come into prolonged direct contact; thus, package cargo should have a layer of protection that prevents touching its cold source.
With all safety precautions followed Dry Ice has great benefits when it comes to shipping any perishable that must be hard or deep-frozen upon arrival.
Although it can evaporate quickly when exposed to normal air and temperatures, a properly insulated shipping container will slow down the process to help maintain enough Dry Ice to keep the perishable cargo within the proper temperature range.
How Long Does Dry Ice Last in a Styrofoam Cooler when shipping Frozen Food?
Dry Ice sublimates into gas about five or ten pounds in a 24-hour period depending on the quality and density of your insulated shipping cooler.
LoBoy Coolers have a higher per cubic inch density that provides shippers an advantage that lets dry ice last longer and can thus reduce the necessary amount of coolant, keeping in mind that it is better to have a little more than too little. Dry Ice can be used as a solo cooling agent or in combination with Gel Ice Packs, an option often used by shippers looking for a backup source that outlasts Dry Ice long enough to ensure there is at least one source keeping products cold after Dry Ice has evaporated.
How much Dry Ice Should I Use for Shipping Frozen Meat?
The lower your cargo temperature during package assembly, the less Dry Ice you may need since for example, it takes more coolant to keep an above 0°F/°C shipment protected than a below 0°F/°C one that is already extremely cold.
Calculating how much Dry Ice your shipping package will need is very important, but because of the many different factors from package to package and company to company, the best way to determine Dry Ice requirements is to test your estimated shipping package arrangements to eliminate the risk of using too much or too little.
Use too much and money gets wasted from added, unnecessary weight and volume. Use too little, and the inside temperature of your package could rise above acceptable levels.
One important rule to keep in mind is that Dry Ice is better for short-term insulated shipping (Overnight to 2-Day) because of its short-term usefulness.
The longer package transit, the more coolant required, the more room it takes up, the heavier it is, and the greater the shipping cost in relation to potential profit.
Conducting internet searches can offer suggested amounts per pound of perishable cargo, but often these numbers are unrelated to your specific situation, although it tends to generate extra revenue for Dry Ice manufacturers and retailers who don't really know your situation.
In some scenarios the volume and weight of the Dry Ice can be more than the perishable cargo itself, making your shipping costs mostly about shipping coolant than shipping product.
When putting together the numbers, it is best to do shipping tests to account for factors such as the amount of cargo, quality (density) of the shipping cooler, cooler wall thickness, a distance of transit, hours of transit, outside air temperatures across shipping zones, expected waiting-time and temperatures (cold or warm there?) at storage locations.
Your Dry Ice provider can help you get the figures all sorted out in combination with package testing.
Sources for Dry Ice Hazard Mailing Requirements:
Go here for more information on United States Postal Service guidelines for Dry Ice Shipping.
This is where you can find Federal Express (FedEx) guidelines for Dry Ice Shipping.
You can locate UPS guidelines for Dry Ice Shipping if required.
Dry Ice can be used as a solo cooling agent or in combination with Gel Ice Packs, an option often used by shippers looking for a backup source that outlasts Dry Ice long enough to ensure there is at least one source keeping products cold after Dry Ice has evaporated