6 Secrets to Keeping Hot Foods Hot During Transport


Chilly winter weather has a way of putting insulated transporters to the test and hot foods at risk. We can’t fight Mother Nature, but we have lots of tools to help us win the fight against heat loss during transport and delivery. Cold food be gone!

The trick is multiple layers of defense to protect hot food. Each one extends temperature retention, so for best results, do steps 1 through 4 every time you transport food and steps 5 or 6 as needed for longer events and frequent access.

1.     Inspect

The first step is to make sure your transporters are in good shape. Carriers and carts hold temperature best when hardware and parts such as gaskets, latches, hinges, door pins, and vent caps are clean and in good working condition. On models with removable door or lid gaskets, the gasket plays a critical role in heat retention, so be sure to replace missing or damaged gaskets to keep precious heat from sneaking out.

2.     Preheat

If your transporter has been stored in a non-temperature controlled environment such as a delivery vehicle, receiving, or storage area, chances are it’s cold as a stone. Just as a cold coffee mug will pull the heat out of coffee in a hurry, a cold transporter will pull the heat out of food. Preheating transporters before loading will prevent this heat loss and extend holding time. To preheat an insulated carrier or cart, slide one or two hot Camwarmers® or a full-sized, uncovered pan of 190˚F (88˚C) hot water onto bottom rails and close the door or lid for 15 to 30 minutes while food is being prepared. For top-loading carriers, set a pan of hot (not boiling) water in the empty carrier and put the lid on for at least 15 minutes before removing the pan and loading with food.

3.     Limit Open Space

Empty spaces in a transporter can cause food to lose temperature, since cavity air and food temperature will naturally equalize. To prevent this, transport carriers as full as possible. When you must work with a partially-filled carrier, retain safe food temperatures and maximize holding time by sliding a Cambro ThermoBarrier® directly below hot food. Two hot Camwarmers can also be slid onto the rail just below hot food to minimize open space, while also providing an active heat source. We’ll talk more about that in step 5.

4.     Minimize Opening and Closing

Every time doors are opened, or lids are lifted, foods and liquids lose temperature. To reduce frequent opening, label the outside of each transporter for closed-door content identification. Cambro UPC400 features a built-in labeling area on the door, UPCS400 models have a built-in menu clip, and the Pro Cart Ultra® has menu pockets, making content labeling and identification quick and easy on a wide variety of models.

Color coding transporters according to contents also minimizes opening and closing (i.e., green for salads, coffee beige for chicken). Lightweight Cam GoBoxes can be outfitted with optional, full-size lids that are available in 6 colors for quick identification and routing.


5.     Use Temperature Maintenance Tools

Cambro insulated transporters are designed to maintain safe temperatures for at least four hours, whether for cold food or hot food. If repeated opening and closing of transporters is unavoidable, it’s especially cold out, or holding and transport time is longer than four hours, temperature maintenance tools can be a cost-effective solution.


The Camwarmer from step 3 is more than just a pre-heating tool. Since it provides an active heat source, it also gives foods a temperature boost during holding and transport. And unlike hot water, it’s safe and practical for transport. To use, heat the Camwarmer in a 350˚F oven for 45 minutes and then load into the carrier or cart by sliding one or two on the bottom rails of your Cambro transporter. Then, as pans are removed (starting from the bottom), move up Camwarmer(s) and place directly beneath the lowest pan to maximize performance.

6.     Go Electric

The Cambro UPCH transporter and Pro Cart Ultra lines were designed specifically to extend holding time and support food safety with frequent opening and/or events over 4 hours. Depending upon the model, since they are all insulated, they can be plugged in for hot or cold food holding on-premise and unplugged for non-electric, insulated transport and off-premise use. Food keeps its natural humidity with no water pan needed.

When the heat is on to serve hot food, worry not! We’re here to help you make the most of what you have and find the cost-effective equipment you need. Contact us.

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