Optimize Your Packaging with ISTA Thermal Testing: A Closer Look at
ISTA 20 and 7E Standards

Thermal testing plays a critical role in ensuring the integrity of packaging and transportation. Recognizing this need, the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) established two highly regarded standards: ISTA 20 and ISTA 7E. These standards serve as comprehensive guidelines for evaluating packaging’s ability to withstand temperature variations during shipping, safeguarding the quality and viability of transported goods. 

Let’s look at the key aspects of ISTA thermal testing standards and highlights the differences.

What is the ISTA 20 and ISTA 7E Standard, and What is Covered?

ISTA 20, also known as “Test Standard for Determining the Temperature Profiles Experienced by Packages during Shipping,” focuses on simulating temperature changes encountered by packaged products in various distribution environments. It guides evaluating the thermal performance of packages to ensure that their contents remain within acceptable temperature ranges.

On the other hand, ISTA 7E, or “Development Testing of Thermal Transport Packaging Used in Parcel Delivery System Shipment,” specifically addresses parcel delivery systems. This standard concentrates on the development testing of thermal packaging solutions used for shipping temperature-sensitive products via parcel carriers.

Contact us for more information or a custom quote to validate your packaging.

What is the Difference Between Them?

ISTA 20 covers a broader range of distribution environments and applies to various packaging types. It focuses on evaluating the temperature profiles experienced by packages during shipping, including temperature fluctuations and exposure durations.

In contrast, standard 7E has a narrower scope, primarily focusing on the specific challenges of parcel delivery systems. It provides detailed guidelines for developing packaging solutions to ensure product integrity during transportation through parcel carriers, such as optimizing insulation, phase change materials, and other temperature-controlling features.

What are the Benefits?

Testing standards offer several benefits for manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors:

  1. Quality Assurance: ISTA standards help ensure that packaging designs meet the requirements to protect products from temperature-related damage during transportation.
  2. Risk Mitigation: By subjecting packaging to rigorous thermal testing, potential risks associated with temperature variations are identified and addressed, minimizing the chances of product spoilage or compromised quality.
  3. Cost Reduction: Conducting testing during the package development phase helps identify optimal designs and materials, resulting in cost savings by reducing product losses and avoiding costly redesigns.
  4. Compliance and Market Access: Following recognized standards like ISTA demonstrates a commitment to quality and compliance, which can enhance market access and customer trust.

What is Important to Know?

When engaging in ISTA thermal testing, it is important to consider the following:

  • Test Parameters: ISTA standards specify test parameters, including temperature ranges, durations, and cycling profiles. Adhering to these parameters ensures consistent and accurate testing results.
  • Packaging Integrity: The thermal testing process also evaluates the overall integrity of the packaging system, including insulation properties, seals, and structural stability.
  • Real-World Conditions: ISTA standards strive to simulate real-world shipping conditions, but it is crucial to understand that test results may not perfectly replicate all possible scenarios.

What Results Will You Get and When to Use What Standard?

Provides valuable data on the performance of packaging systems under varying temperature conditions. The results obtained from ISTA 20 and 7E testing can help determine the suitability of packaging for specific distribution environments and transportation modes.

When to Use ISTA 20 When to Use ISTA 7E
  • Assessing the performance of packaging in a broader range of distribution environments.
  • Evaluating temperature profiles experienced by packages during shipping.
  • Needing a more general thermal testing approach applicable to various packaging types.
  • Designing thermal packaging solutions specifically for parcel delivery systems.
  • Developing temperature-controlled packaging to ensure product integrity during transportation via parcel carriers.
  • Focusing on optimizing insulation and temperature-controlling features for small to medium-sized packages.

TempAid Cold Chain Support


40 Years Experience


green solutions




In-House Support

ISTA Qualified Packaging | ISTA thermal testing 20 and 7E standard

lab services


global manufacturing

TempAid: Your Certified ISTA Testing Lab

TempAid is a certified ISTA laboratory equipped to conduct thermal testing according to ISTA standards. With our expertise in packaging and transportation, we can help you assess and optimize the thermal performance of your packaging solutions.

Contact us today to learn more about our ISTA testing capabilities and how we can assist you in meeting your thermal testing needs.