Food transport solutions, such as food pan and beverage carriers, have long been a necessity in commercial foodservice establishments, popular for catering and delivery operations, buffet and cafeteria-style serving, schools and universities, and more. They’re designed for efficient maneuverability and holding products at safe serving temperatures.
Cambro Manufacturing has been leading the industry in food storage and transport innovations. Their solutions, including traditional electric, insulated non-electric, and lightweight EPP handheld carriers; assortment of hot and cold food pans; variety of shelving and storage essentials; utility carts; and more have helped food operations run smoothly for decades. Cambro’s solutions also help establishments adapt to face unprecedented challenges such as the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. For example, their Grab-N-Go solutions have enabled traditional school meal programs to adapt to efficiently and safely serve meals, providing much needed portability and flexibility, and promoting a-la-carte upselling.
Cambro’s food and beverage carriers are no different. They’ve assisted establishments across the spectrum, from schools to restaurants, ghost kitchens, catering operations, etc. adapt their day-to-day operations to meet new consumer demands.
Food Pan Carrier Considerations
Food pan carriers come in a variety of designs and features suited for varying applications. You’ll first need to determine the size of the carrier, which has everything to do with how much product you wish to transport. Cambro’s assortment can accommodate anything from one full-size food pan to 32. You’ll want to have a good idea of the average party size to be served.
- You can get approximately (40) one cup servings from a standard, 4” deep full-size food pan
- Traditionally, the fuller the insulated transporter is, the longer it will hold temperatures and the better it will perform
Front-Loading vs. Top-Loading Food Pan Carriers
Do you want a front-loader carrier, or a top-loader? Front-loading food pan carriers are characterized by their vertical stature with the door on the front. In many instances, multiple front-loading transporters can be stacked, and they’re better suited for carrying multiple full-size pans. The ability to stack these units is more beneficial than the obvious increased product transportation. Many establishments will stack two front-loading carriers on a dolly for easy transport. One will contain hot food while the other cold food, both products kept at food-safe serving temperatures.
Top-loading food pan carriers, on the other hand, can only accommodate a single full-size food pan, or a combination of fractional-size pans. They’re most noted by their horizontal figure with the opening on top of the unit. They’re traditionally more economical and you can serve right out of them.
How long will you need to hold your food and how often will you need access to it? The answer to these questions will determine whether you’ll want an electric unit or an insulated, non-electric unit. All Cambro insulated food pan carriers are designed to hold either cold or hot products at safe serving temperatures for up to four hours. If you need to hold food for longer, or you need constant access to it and are continually opening the door during this four-hour timeframe, an electric model is recommended. More on the differences between electric and non-electric carriers below.
How Will You Be Transporting?
Stacking your front-loading carriers on a dolly makes maneuvering over different terrain much easier and causes less strain for operators. However, you’ll still want to consider what kind of terrain you’ll be navigating over. For smooth surfaces like carpet or tilted floors, a dolly with standard polyurethane casters will be up to the task. However, if you’re transporting your carriers over terrain like sidewalks and cobblestones, you’ll want to opt for a dolly designed for heavy duty use with hi-modulus casters.
As noted, food pan carriers come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different food serving demands. If you’re taking your carrier on the road to a delivery destination or offsite catered event, you’ll want to verify the external dimensions of the carrier will fit comfortably in the vehicle. In this same vein, transporting through stairways, ramps, and on elevators should also be a factor of consideration, and making sure you have the right accessories, like carrying straps, to safely accommodate.
A Note on Containers
Your container selection should depend on what type of product you’re planning to transport with your carrier. You’ll want to make sure the container will fit comfortably within the internal dimensions of the transporter. Cambro manufactures different containers to better hold hot food over cold food, and vice versa, and different transporters specifically designed to safely transport beverages, food pans, sheet pans, trays, and pizza boxes.
Traditional Food Pan Carriers
Traditional food pan carriers, like the Cambro UPC CamCarrier series, are made out of durable polycarbonate plastic to withstand heavy-duty, commercial use. Cambro UPC CamCarriers feature a seamless one-piece, durable double-wall construction with foamed-in-place insulation to ensure temperatures are maintained. Furthermore, the doors of the front-loading options open to a wide 270° angle for comfortable access to contents, and don’t feature gaskets, making them easily removable for cleaning purposes.
Traditional polycarbonate food pan carriers are built for long-lasting use, readily combatting the daily wear and tears of commercial foodservice. A main consideration for these traditional carriers is whether an electric or non-electric model will better serve your needs.
Electric vs. Non-Electric Food Pan Carriers
Both electric and non-electric food pan carriers are insulated, ready to hold food at safe temperatures for up to four hours regardless of available electricity. However, like all aforementioned considerations, there are unique benefits to each.
Electric food pan carriers are ideal for longer events and instances when the door will be opened and closed frequently. The biggest benefit to an electric model is it extends holding time to support food safety. Even when the model is unplugged, it will still hold food at proper hot or cold serving temperatures for over four hours, given their foamed-in-place insulation.
Cambro electric carriers remain cool to the touch, even when heated, and are Energy-Star rated for energy efficiency. Their adjustable universal stainless steel rails offer much needed flexibility in product holding.
There are a couple drawbacks to electric units compared to non-electric ones that come into play when deciding which transporter is the right solution. They traditionally come at a higher price point and they require ready access to an outlet for optimal performance.
Cambro’s Pro Cart Ultra™ Electric & Non-Electric Insulated Transporters
Cambro’s popular, one-of-a-kind Pro Cart Ultra™ line of food pan carriers is a staple in holding and transport, noted for their adaptability and customizable configurations. Capable of holding both hot and cold foods in a single cart at the same time while maintaining food quality and safe serving temperatures, all without a compressor. A variety of sizes and electrical options are available, including:
- Electric hot
- Electric cold
- Non-electric (also known as passive)
As is standard with Cambro’s electric carriers, the insulation will continue to hold products at safe serving temperatures for up to four hours when unplugged, and the hot and cold modules can be changed in as little as five minutes, making them ideal for changes in menu, budget, locations, trends, etc.
The cold module features a digital controller to set the cold from 32.5°F to 40°F without a compressor, a benefit for ease of mobility and food safety on the go, all while making use of environmentally friendly thermoelectric technology for cooling.
The hot module keeps food products safely between 150°F to 165°F with gentle, non-radiant heat circulating consistently from front to back. It’s energy-efficient, drawing in less than five amps.
View Cambro’s Pro Cart Ultra brochure for more features and benefits.
Cambro EPP GoBox® Handheld Food and Beverage Carriers
A budget-friendly alternative to traditional polycarbonate food and beverage carriers are lightweight EPP carriers – a transportation solution rising in prominence and creating new efficiencies in catering, curbside pickup, and delivery operations. Known for their combination of incredible lightness that reduces strain and highly-durable strength, these professional-grade insulated carriers protect food quality and prioritize safe serving temperatures while greatly lightening the load for employees.
Cambro’s innovative Cam GoBox® Carriers are made of EPP, which stands for expanded polypropylene, a closed-cell bead foam providing excellent energy absorption and thermal insulation with amazing impact and chemical resistance that can withstand substantial impact without damage. It’s environmentally friendly, CFC-free and 100% recyclable. Common uses for EPP outside of the foodservice industry include impact protection in automobiles, protecting valuable goods during shipment, and helmet lining for impact sports. Tailored to food and beverage transport, these durable and lightweight solutions ensure food stays out of the temperature danger zone range, keeping cold products below 41°F and hot foods above 135°F for over four hours. They’re also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning!
Top uses for Cam GoBoxes® include:
- Delivering individual meals
- Carrying catered foods to events or drop-off
- Holding hot or cold food for take-out operations
- Preparing for large events
Given their economical price point and the unique benefits they provide, Cambro GoBox® Carriers are ideal for businesses adding new catering or delivery services to their operation.
They’re available in a range of sizes and configurations, including top-loading and front-loading. Another unique benefit compared to traditional carriers is that even the top-loading models can be stacked.
Cambro GoBox® Pro Tips:
- Fill carrier to capacity for optimal temperature retention
- To ensure sanitary cleanliness, use a food pan or plastic liner
- Clean spills immediately after use
- Wash regularly with a mild detergent, using a vinegar and water solution to eliminate odors (more cleaning instructions below)
Accessories for Cambro EPP GoBox® Handheld Carriers
The right accessories for your GoBox® carriers can further enhance operational efficiencies while ensuring customer needs are met.
Cam GoBox® Beverage Holders
The Cambro Cam GoBox® Beverage Holders are ideal to keep beverages and condiments secure during transport, maintaining hot or cold drink temperatures up to three plus hours. They fit in most GoBox® top loaders and accommodate a variety of cup sizes and styles with modular designs that snap together to hold as many drinks as necessary.
The Cambro Camdolly is used to easily transport multiple GoBox® food carriers, featuring a 300 lb. load capacity and 4” casters, two swivel and two with brakes for hassle-free maneuverability.
Plastic ID Labels
Cambro’s set of colorful plastic ID labels assist in readily identifying the contents of GoBox® carriers without having to open.
Cambro Camchillers® are designed to extend the cold holding time of products. Simply freeze overnight and place on top of the carrier.
Cambro’s ThermoBarriers® keep hot or cold air concentrated within front-loading GoBox® carriers for longer temperature retention. As pans are removed, replace them with the ThermoBarrier to conceal open spaces for optimal insulation.
Milk Crate Cooler
As noted, Cambro GoBoxes° come in a variety of sizes, designs, and configurations, with new models hitting the market regularly to meet specific demands. One recent GoBox® adaptation is the Cambro GoBox® Insulated Milk Box. Designed to comfortably fit a 13”x13” milk crate, they’re an ideal transport solution in the school setting.
Cleaning Your Cambro GoBox® Carrier and Final Tips
Cleanliness is key. It is recommended you clean your Cambro GoBox® after each use. The EPP material provides a range of properties, including energy absorption, multiple impact resistance, thermal insulation, buoyancy, water and chemical resistance, and a phenomenal strength-to-weight ratio, all while being 100% recyclable. Given these feats, they are dishwasher safe.
They’re designed to last, withstanding the daily rigors of a commercial foodservice environment. With that said, like all equipment and supplies, their longevity depends on how well they’re maintained. Here are a few care and maintenance tips to keep top of mind to ensure you continue to glean maximum performance from your investment:
- Wipe up food spills as soon as possible and clean the carrier regularly to avoid staining and difficult-to-clean conditions.
- Clean the carrier with a cloth or sponge, water, and a mild detergent suitable for plastic surfaces. Do not use abrasive cleaners, steel woold, abrasive pads, or metal brushes.
- The carrier can be washed out with a hose, but do not use a high-pressure device like a pressure washer.
- Allow to air dry or use a towel. When possible, leave the door or lid ajar so the carrier can air out.
- Should an odor occur, eliminate with a vinegar and water solution.
Here are some general dos and don’ts to further ensure you get the most out of your EPP GoBox® Carrier:
- Always follow food safety guidelines.
- Ensure products are at the appropriate food-safe temperatures prior to placing into the carrier. Use a food-safe temperature probe to confirm appropriate internal temperatures.
- Make sure hot metal pan surfaces cool below 248°F before placing inside.
- Secure any latches before transporting.
- Load from the bottom up for greater stability.
- Cambro GoBox® carriers aren’t designed for direct food contact; rather, they’re intended for use with hot or cold food pans.
- Do not exceed surface temperatures between -40°F to 248°
- Do not use canned fuel or an open flame inside or near the unit.
- Grab-N-Go: Solutions for Safe Serving and Portable Meals
- Food Storage Tips to Reduce Waste, Keep Products Fresher for Longer, and Prevent Cross-Contamination
- The Temperature Danger Zone
- Insulated Food Delivery Bags Buying Guide
- Supply List for School Kitchens and Cafeterias
- Food Safety 101: A Crash Course
- Cambro’s Ultimate Guide to Insulated Transport
- Cambro’s Delivery Solutions Brochure
Chase joined Central Restaurant Products in February 2016 as a Content Specialist, bringing to the role years of various foodservice experience, including front-of-house service (slingin’ chicken wings and libations with a smile on his face) and back-of-house food prep using heavy-duty commercial cooking equipment to prepare for peak dining hours at his university’s dining hall.
He puts this experience to use writing for Central’s Resource Center, website, and print catalog. ServSafe certified, he enjoys educating on food safety in the commercial setting, researching new dining room and tabletop trends, and sharing innovative solutions to enhance operational efficiencies. He also enjoys (in no specific order) long hikes with his dog, bingeing 90s sitcoms, red wine, and live music.