FoodKeeper helps eliminate waste with food storage tips

Understand how different storage methods affect a product’s shelf life and more – all in an app!

Spring is coming, and with the change in seasons comes the desire for most of us to clean pantries, cupboards, refrigerators and freezers. As you are cleaning, how many times do you question if a food is still good? Or if a leftover has been in the refrigerator a bit too long and if it’s still safe to eat?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 36 pounds of food per person is wasted each month at the retail and consumer levels! Food waste from households represents about 44 percent of all food waste generated in the U.S. To help remedy some of this waste, the USDA, Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute created an application for our phones in April 2015 called the FoodKeeper. This new application will help consumers understand how different storage methods can affect a product’s shelf life.

The FoodKeeper application provides information about storage advice to help consumers maintain the freshness and quality of foods. The app also provides general information on:

  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Pantry storage
  • Food product dating
  • Use of fresh produce
  • Storage of refrigerated foods and frozen foods
  • Tips for shelf stable foods, spices, condiments and sauces
  • Cleaning
  • Guidelines for handling leftovers
  • Handling food safely
  • Handling food safely during a power outage

The application features valuable storage advice about more than 400 food and beverage items. With this application the user can also:

  • Find specific storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer and pantry.
  • Get cooking tips for cooking methods of meat, poultry and seafood products.
  • Note in the user devices’ calendar when products was purchased and receive notifications when they are nearing the end of their recommended storage date.
  • Search the app with swipe gestures or voice control.
  • Submit questions to the USDA using the “Ask Karen” feature . The Ask Karen feature provides information about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage and safe preparation of meat, poultry and egg products.

The FoodKeeper is available for Android and Apple devices. Storage times listed are intended as useful guidelines and not hard-and-fast rules. It is important to remember some foods may deteriorate more quickly while others may last longer than others suggested. The FoodKeeper is also available in a “hard-copy” format or online.

Michigan State University Extension suggests consumers practice techniques to reduce food waste by purchasing quantities appropriate to family size, storing food properly, cooking what is needed and storing food safely afterwards. Finally, by composting waste, consumers can save money and reduce the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills. Keep in mind proper food storage preserves food quality, including nutrients, flavor and texture. It also makes the most of your food dollar by preventing spoilage and helps prevent foodborne illness caused from harmful bacteria.

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