Home meal delivery services have never been hotter than they are right now, particularly as rumors swirl that Blue Apron may be prepping for an IPO in 2017. Which doesn’t mean that the company, or any of these companies, are profitable – but they certainly are growing fast. Here’s a quote from TechCrunch a couple months ago:

“Toward the end of 2014, Blue Apron announced it was serving up 1 million meals per month, which averages out to a $120 million revenue run rate, with meals priced around $10 a pop. By the summer of 2015, Blue Apron was operating at a $360 million run rate with 3 million meals sold each month. Around the same time, Blue Apron ate up $135 million in funding at a $2 billion valuation. In April of 2016, Blue Apron was selling 8 million meals per month.”

In any case, if you want the convenience of home meal delivery services, but want to do it safely, here are the five things you need to know:

  1. Use a calibrated thermometer: check the temperature of the food in your meal kit with a calibrated thermometer as soon as it arrives at your door. “FDA has a zone they call the temperature danger zone which is 41 to 135 – if food is in that zone for more than four hours you have to discard,” explained Eric Lane, who teaches food safety at the University of Denver Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality.
  2. Four-hour rule for foods off temp: Lane said foods kept off temperature for more than four hours should go in the trash, because that’s when pathogens that can make you ill can start growing on the food.
  3. Check temperatures while cooking: Lane also suggests using a calibrated thermometer throughout the cooking process to ensure meats and fish reach the proper temperatures before you eat them.
    • Chicken: 165 degrees for 15 seconds
    • Ground meat: 155 degrees for 15 seconds
    • Seafood: 145 degrees for 15 seconds
  4. Be aware of cross contamination: With several different kinds of ingredients in each box, Lane said to check and make sure that nothing has leaked, especially raw meats before you begin cooking. “No matter how well you pack these things, you run some degree of risk,” he said.
  5. There are no FDA guidelines for home meal delivery kits: The FDA is currently studying the issue, but has not caught up with the trend. Right now, Lane said meal kit companies aren’t held to the same standards as brick and mortar restaurants when it comes to food safety requirements.