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Ahead of World Health Day, April 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reaffirming its commitment to minimizing food waste by rolling out the FoodKeeper application.
Jointly developed by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), FoodKeeper tells users how to store food and beverages to maximize their freshness and quality. The app offers storage advice on nearly 500 food and beverage items, including baby food, dairy products and eggs, meat, poultry, produce and seafood.
Among the app's additional features are storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer and pantry; cooking tips to ensure users prepare products in ways that eliminate foodborne bacteria; calendar integration, which enables users to enter the purchase date for products and provides notifications when products are nearing the end of their recommended storage dates; the ability to search with swipe gestures or voice control; and the ability to submit a question to USDA via "Ask Karen," the department’s 24/7 virtual representative. FoodKeeper is available for Android and Apple devices.
"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," noted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This can help consumers save money and reduce the amount of safe food going to landfills."
According to USDA, an estimated 21 percent of the available food in the United States goes uneaten by consumers. This breaks down to 36 pounds of food per person that’s wasted each month at the retail and consumer levels.
The app is part of a broader USDA-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency effort, the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. Launched in 2013, the challenge encourages participants across the food chain, including supermarkets, to reduce food waste by improving product development, storage, shopping/ordering, marketing, labeling and cooking methods.