When Should You Refuse to Accept Food in A Shipment

You should not accept food shipments on any of your business addresses if the shipper is unknown, or the shipment arrives from an unknown source, or the food shipment arrives from a different location than when it was ordered.

The Shipment Doesn’t Match the Original Order.

  • The product is damaged or defective.

If your product arrives damaged or defective, contact the seller immediately to request an exchange or refund. If they refuse and you paid by credit card, you may be able to dispute the charge with your credit card company or PayPal.

  • The product is substandard quality compared to other products of its type on the market.

If you think your product is substandard quality compared to similar products on the market, contact the seller immediately and ask for an exchange or refund. If they refuse and you paid by credit card, you may be able to dispute the charge with your credit card company or PayPal.

If you receive a shipment that is different than what you ordered, you should refuse it. This can happen if the supplier incorrectly packages or labels your products. In addition, some companies will ship a product before it’s been fully tested or approved for use by the FDA. These products may be dangerous and should also be refused.

  • The shipment contains non-food items.

There are many reasons why you might receive a shipment of non-food items in your food order. For example, if an item has been damaged or broken during shipping, the manufacturer may send you a replacement part instead of a new product. If this happens, make sure that the non-food item doesn’t get mixed up with your food items when you unpack them at home. This could be a serious health hazard if people accidentally eat something they shouldn’t have eaten!

The Delivery Is Late or Not Matched To Demand.

If the shipment is late, you might want to refuse it. A delayed shipment can cause other problems if you don’t catch it. For example, if you ordered your products in time for spring and received them at the end of winter, then you may have some storage issues. A late shipment can also create supply chain issues when your business must eat the cost of the stock sitting around without being able to sell it.

  • The product doesn’t match what was ordered or expected.

If your supplier ships a different product than what was ordered or expected, this could be a problem as well. If they ship an incorrect quantity or type of product, then it might be best not to accept the shipment unless there’s no other option available for you at all (such as if the product is custom made). However, if your supplier does something like send out different colored iPhones instead of black ones, then this isn’t going to cause too many problems for your business — especially if it’s something that can be easily fixed with minimal effort on your end (for example by adding a sticker on top).

You’ve Been Overcharged, And the Invoice Isn’t Accurate.

If you’ve ever received a shipment, chances are you’ve been asked to accept the shipment and pay for it. Maybe you’ve even been asked to sign a document that says you’ve accepted the shipment.

But there are times when it’s not appropriate to accept a shipment. Here are four times when you should refuse to accept food in a shipment:

  • You’ve been overcharged and the invoice isn’t accurate. If your invoice has been padded with charges for things like packing materials or fuel, you should refuse the shipment and ask for a revised invoice.
  • The freight company is insolvent or bankrupt. If they can’t pay their bills now, they won’t be able to pay theirs later when they deliver your goods.
  • The freight company won’t guarantee payment until after delivery and acceptance of the goods. If they don’t want to guarantee payment until after delivery, then don’t accept their offer of food in a shipment!

There’s No Evidence of A Temperature Check.

  • There’s no evidence of a temperature check.

Inspectors are not allowed to open food packages, but they can check for a “temperature indicator” sticker on the outside of the box. If it’s missing or damaged, it could mean that the package wasn’t monitored during transit.

  • The packaging looks damaged or torn.

If there’s any doubt about whether food was properly secured during transit, you should refuse to accept it. “If it looks like there might be damage to the packaging,” says Jenkins, “it’s best just to send it back.”

In a shipment of food, there are times when you may refuse to accept the shipment.

The following are examples of when you can refuse to accept a shipment of food:

  • There’s no evidence of a temperature check.
  • The transport vehicle was not cleaned properly, or it has an odor.
  • The food is not packed in accordance with the carrier’s procedures (e.g., double bagging).
  • The shipping documents are missing or incomplete.

The Food Is Past Its Expiry Date or May Pull a Health Risk.

If you receive a shipment of food and the expiration date has passed, re-taste the product before sending it out. You can also check with the supplier to find out if they have received any complaints from other customers about their products being past their expiry dates.

If you are concerned about a specific batch of product, test it before you send it out to your customers. You can use a home test kit or send it to a lab for testing.

Some of the reasons for refusing food include:

  • The food is past its expiry date or may pull a health risk.
  • The food is contaminated with foreign material.
  • The food is stale, rancid, or damaged.
  • The food is adulterated or misbranded.

The shipment contains food that has been recalled by the FDA because of harmful contamination. The shipment contains a product that may be potentially harmful to you and your customers, such as a frozen chicken breast contaminated with salmonella.


You’ve done all the right things: you’ve dotted your i’s, crossed your t’s, checked everything twice and signed off on every form. But still, when you open a delivery of food products and it’s full of mold or outdated, how can you make sure that your company isn’t on the hook for a massive recall? The answer is simple: know what to look out for when receiving shipments from vendors.

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