Why Registered Dietitians Are Saying Not to Trust Meal Prep Companies

There are staggering numbers of Meal Prep Companies in the market today. For instance, bistroMD is a meal preparation service targeted towards people who want to lose weight, Per-Made Paleo is for Paleo dieters, Bite Meals for fitness and bodybuilding lovers, and I am not even scratching the surface. However, a video by registered dietitian Kara Corey makes me question the legitimacy of such businesses.

Are Meal Prep Companies Regulated?

By law, food preparation and delivery businesses need to acquire certain licenses. These usually include a food handling and catering licenses. However, a lot of these companies are not transparent about their licensing and food safety procedures. I have checked 16 meal delivery websites, and only one of them has a page designated for Food Safety, and that’s Blue Apron - a site that sends the ingredients of particular recipes for you to make at home. However, when it comes to labeling and nutritional values, there are hardly any restrictions on meal prep companies. 

What Does a Registered Dietitian Think of Meal Prep Companies?

Meal Prep Companies

Meal Prep Companies

Kara Corey from Kara Corey Fit Life on YouTube is a registered dietitian and a WNBF Bikini Pro. Her recent video titled Don't Trust Meal Prep Companies! gives us a bit of insight to why we should be careful when dealing with meal prep companies (Watch Here). What grabbed Kara’s attention was a chicken pasta dish from Bite Meal. The label states that the meal has 31 grams of carbs only. After eating it, Kara Corey was suspicious because the plate was full of pasta and marinara sauce. So she emailed the company asking what type of pasta do they use for the meal and they told her.Then, she experimented. She bought the same exact pasta and used the same portions. She figured out the portion by counting how many cooked pasta pieces there were. It turned out that 88 cooked pieces were equivalent to 2.36 oz dry. And according to the package, that's 45 carbs without counting the marinara sauce. So Kara guesses that the meal is around 50 carbs and not 31. Well, she wasn’t wrong. Bite Meal has already corrected the label to 49 calories for the chicken pasta meal.

Why Does This Error Matter?

“When you find something incorrect, it makes you question all their other meals. It makes you question if the company is telling what they’re doing is accurate... Are they adding on other stuff... that they do not include in their nutritional“, Kara states.Her goal for this video is not to scare consumers off using meal prep services, but to encourage them to be smart and curious about what they’re putting in their body. She recommends people understand their bodies and the fullness levels when eating different types/quantity of food.“Anytime we go out to eat. Anytime we're consuming food other than what we are pulling out of our garden or... making it ourselves... You have to question the nutritional value of what you’re consuming”, she concludes.

Other Things to Lookout For

"With more Americans working... the ultimate time saver and convenience, is a home delivery of mail-order foods. While the mail order industry enjoys a good safety record, ordering food through the mail may cause concerns about food safety, shelf life, and distribution”, writes The U.S Department of Agriculture on their website. They also recommend that consumers do the following:

  • Be sure perishable items (meat or poultry) are cold or frozen and packed with a cold source.

  • The company should deliver the food as quickly as possible—ideally, overnight.

  • “When you receive an item marked "Keep Refrigerated," open it immediately and check its temperature. The food should arrive frozen or partially frozen with ice crystals still visible or at least refrigerator cold. If perishable food arrives warm, notify the company and do not consume the food or even taste it.

  • If you’re sending food to someone, alert them. Don't have perishable items delivered to an office. Unless you know, it'll arrive on a workday, and there is a refrigerator available.