October 21, 2018

USDA Releases “FoodKeeper” App for Consumers

The USDA, along with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, has released FoodKeeper, an app that will help consumers keep the food in their homes safe while minimizing food waste. American consumers waste at least 30% of the food they buy, which comes to about 133 billion pounds every year.

FoodKeeperFoodKeeper “contains food safety and storage advice to help you maintain freshness and quality of foods,” according to the Food Marketing Institute. The app gives consumers information on temperature and storage for items that must be refrigerated, information about packaging, freezer burn, and defrosting frozen food, and information on temperature and storage of low-acid canned foods, high-acid canned goods, and canned hams. The app is free for download on the App Store and Google Play.

Dates on food products are not required by the federal government, and they mean different things. They mostly help grocery stores know how long to sell the foods. They are an indicated of quality, not safety, and are determined by the manufacturer. A food may be perfectly safe to eat after the “best if used by” date, but isn’t of the highest quality. And once opened, quality limits vary from the product date.

FoodKeeper also has information about safely storing fresh produce, shelf stable foods such as spices, extracts, condiments, and sauces, and how to clean. Information about leftovers, including how long to store leftovers and reheating tips, is also included. Finally, tips for handling food safely are included.

FoodKeeper has a database you can search. It will list the product, the different forms the product is packaged in and sold, and how long it will keep, refrigerated, frozen, and unopened in the pantry. Then the app lists cooking times, safe final internal temperatures, and any rest time required before eating.

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