I frequently bring snacks and groceries from India to the U.S. (remembering to follow the laws against fresh fruit/vegetables) that I can't find there in the U.S. Now, I'm planning to bring a food that requires refrigeration.

Checked in or carry on, is there a safe place where I can carry such perishable foods with me without them rotting during the long international journey with a layover in between, or do I have to ship them to my destination using a special shipping service (perishable goods)?

  • 3
    Can you tell me the specific "Indian Food" you are carrying? I might be able to help, I do it quite often. Usually I just freeze it and after I reach home, I take it out and put it in the fridge. Ice-packs are also a good option. Aug 1, 2014 at 1:37
  • @Adi This is a general, canonical question. The scenario I've given is for my specific situation, but I want this to be widely applicable to any food that requires refrigeration.
    – gparyani
    Aug 1, 2014 at 2:11
  • @damryfbfnetsi So refrigeration is mandatory. Alright, no worries. Aug 1, 2014 at 2:14
  • 1
    @pnuts Not in all cases, apparently. See this comment on the answer
    – gparyani
    Aug 2, 2014 at 21:18

2 Answers 2


I would suggest a method as simple as any. Freeze it before you leave, put it in your check-in luggage and as soon as you reach the other side, put it in the freezer.

I have done this many times with products which require refrigeration (can be milk based as well) and everything remains okay after the flight.

If you wish to be extra careful or if the product will lose texture after refrigeration, try ice packs instead. They are also quite effective and also keep cold for longer, but unfortunately they also count as additional weight.

  • Yes, but do I put it in the freezer or the refrigerator upon arrival? And it's pnuts's first comment true on the question?
    – gparyani
    Aug 1, 2014 at 14:48
  • As far as I know, the cargo hold is temperature controlled, otherwise how do you expect dogs to travel in it? Depending on what product it is, if refrigerator is suited for long time storage, refrigerator is fine. Otherwise freezer definitely works. Freezer would prevent unnecessary dehydration in the long run. Aug 1, 2014 at 17:14
  • Speaking of which, I heard of someone who managed to carry Amul Cheese chiplets from India to the U.S. on a journey similar to mine, and then take three hours to drive home, and the cheese was still cold and not spoiled. I'm curious as to whether he was just lucky or if it will definitely be safe for the food.
    – gparyani
    Aug 1, 2014 at 17:49
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    Cargo areas are not always heated. If the cargo manifest doesn't include live animals they only get heat that bleeds through from the passenger area above. But if animals are onboard the pilots will turn on the heat in the cargo section.
    – user13044
    Aug 1, 2014 at 20:57
  • I'm pretty sure it won't be spoilt. I have personally carried milk based Indian sweets after freezing them and they were good as new. :) Aug 2, 2014 at 3:54

Dry ice (CO2) is a better alternative to regular ice. Doesn't leak, much colder, lighter... Freezing is not all that effective if the item has a low water content, like some cheeses.

Check with the airline, but in general dry ice is considered a "mildly hazardous" item - pack it properly in a vented container, no more than X kilograms and it's good to go.

In Canada dry ice up to 2.5kg is accepted as carry-on.

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