In an effort to strengthen its commitment to reducing food waste in advance of World Health Day on April 7, USDA has launched a new “FoodKeeper” app that delivers valuable food storage and safety information right to consumers’ mobile devices.
The app was developed by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute. The app is available for Android and Apple devices. According to USDA “this new application informs users on how to store food and beverages to maximize their freshness and quality. By helping users understand food storage, the application empowers consumers to choose storage methods that extend the shelf life of their items. Users will be able to keep items fresh longer than if they were not stored properly.”
Through education, USDA hopes the app will cut down on the billions of pounds of food that goes wasted every year in the US because consumers are not sure of its quality or safety. USDA estimates that 21 percent of the available food in the US goes uneaten at the consumer level.
"This application will help reduce food waste by showing users how to store foods properly, and reminding them to use items before they are likely to spoil," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This can help consumers save money and reduce the amount of safe food going to landfills."
The application features include the following:
-Product pages for more than 400 items that include storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry.
-Cooking tips for meat, poultry, seafood and egg products.
-Calendar integration, which allows users to enter the purchase date for products and offers notifications when products are nearing the end of their recommended storage date.
Overall, this app is part of a larger USDA and EPA effort known as the US Food Waste Challenge. Launched in 2013, the Food Waste Challenge calls on participants across the food chain – farms, agricultural processors, food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, universities, schools, and local governments – to join efforts to reduce, recover and recycle food waste.