When travelling on business, professionals will not only need to keep their food fresh, but they will also need to consider weight, ease of packing, and whether you can get them through security without being confiscated.
So which ice-packs are suitable when you need to take food on business trips?
We tested Bello mini ice blocks for safety, reliability, durability and how long they can keep food fresh when travelling, along with likelihood of passing through security, weight and ease of use.
Bello mini ice blocks generally receive good consumer feedback. They are slim in design, durable and easy to pack. They freeze fast and keep food chilled for several hours. Although they are slightly heavier in weight than comparable mini ice blocks, they are suitable to use when travelling on business. Unfortunately, this will not include flying as the contents exceed the liquid restrictions for clearance through customs.
Bello mini ice blocks are available as a set, with two or three per pack and they come in a range of four colours. We tested a set of two ice blocks together for performance in thawing and keeping foods chilled.
Are they safe, reliable and will they stand the test of time?
Bello mini ice blocks are relatively robust in design. They are made of a hardwearing plastic, with a sealed, leak proof tap hidden within an alcove of the plastic square design to protect it from being unduly knocked or bent and subsequently damaged. The contents are reportedly non toxic and there are no consumer reports of leakage upon use which we encountered.
These ice blocks are quicker to freeze than comparable ice blocks, possibly due to their slimmer shape and consequence of their greater surface area to volume. They can be re frozen with regular use, and as advertised as hardwearing and durable, consumers report their quality aspects and continued use.
Are they lightweight and easy to use?
Their slim, compact size allows them to fit easily into lunch cooler bag and to pack around the food. This compares well to using only one standard sized freeze block of 200 grams. Although slightly larger in diameter than the Thermos weekend mini ice packs, consumers report appropriateness of size, not being too bulky and fitting nicely into a lunch box/bag without taking up too much room.
As these blocks are quick to freeze, taking only about 2 hours to a semi solid state and comparatively a short time to a fully frozen solid state (within only 4 hours) they can be frozen on the same day of intended use.
They are a light in weight, particularly compared to the standard freeze block of 200g,
but not as light as other mini freeze blocks, with a weight per pack of 125 grams.
How well do they keep food chilled?
We tested two Bello mini ice blocks together in one insulated bag to test thawing and chilling times. Together these ice blocks took around 3 hours to thaw in an insulated bag by themselves, but appear to keep food fresh for around 4 hours.
In comparison to other mini ice blocks/packs tested, these took the shortest time to thaw, possibly due to the larger surface to volume ratio. However, they keep food chilled for similar times to other ice packs/blocks, possibly due to the larger volume of icy water in the same insulated bag.
Are they likely to be confiscated at security?
Unfortunately, these ice packs are 125 grams total in weight, which is over the 100 mls maximum liquid volume per container. Furthermore, the plastic container is not transparent and subsequently it is not feasible to view the liquid contents. The actual capacity is not labelled on the container so it would be difficult for airport security to ascertain its total liquid volume. They might pass through with medicine or special foods but this may depend on the airport where departure is taking place. Consequently, as it does not fit within the airline guidelines of 100 mls or less, the likelihood of it being confiscated at security is much higher than other comparable mini packs.
Part A: Test information
Product Name: Bello Mini Freezer Blocks,
Product Model: AM6407
Item model number: not located
Test date: 23 June and 6 July 2014 for freezing , 14 July and 18 July 2014 for thawing times in insulated bag without food
Target Market: Will it suit the executive travel market? Yes, but may be confiscated going through security when flying as it is over 100 ml.
Part B: Specification
Type: plastic mini ice block
Weight: total weight 125 gram
Size: small, described as mini
Height: 8.3 cm
Width: 2.0 cm
Length: 9.0 cm
Shape: Square shape
Colour: one of four coloured exterior. Not transparent with unseen liquid.
Material: Plastic with non toxic liquid inside.
Design: Leak proof cap, hardwearing exterior. The cap is indented in the square design offering some protection from damage.
Volume: less than 125 gs, but over 100 ml.
Boxed: Comes as a two or three set depending on the retailer or distributor.
RRP Price ranges from £2.99 to £4.40 from www.amazon.co.uk(at time of testing)
Manufactured: by Bello unknown country origin.
Regulatory compliance: meets and exceeds EN 12564-3:2000