FoodKeeper - Beating the Expiration Date: USDA Combats Food Waste with FoodKeeper Smartphone App
Image: FoodKeeper

April 02, 2015

Wondering about the shelf life of that grocery-store-prepared pizza you bought a few days ago? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just rolled out a smart phone application that can help.

Developed along with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, the FoodKeeper app provides the shelf life for more than 400 different food items and includes tips for safe preparation.

The free app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

The agency and its partners developed the app as part of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, which calls on organizations and businesses across the food supply chain to fight against food waste.

Consumers are also on the hook for food waste. The USDA estimates that 21 percent of available food in the U.S. goes uneaten at the consumer level. Oftentimes, this is because the consumer is unsure if it's still safe to eat. This waste adds up to billions of pounds of food that ends up in landfills.

At both the retail and consumer level, an estimated 36 pounds of food per person is wasted each month.

The app provides information on how to store foods so that they stay fresh longer. It also offers cooking tips to ensure that foods are cooked properly and to safe internal temperatures.

For example, fresh chicken breasts should be consumed between one and two days. When baked at 350 degrees, a 4-ounce piece should take between 20 and 30 minutes cook to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees.

The app includes a calendar feature, which allows you to enter the purchase date for a particular product and notifies you when that product is about to expire. This may lead to less expired food sitting in your refrigerator or pantry.

Another helpful site is StillTasty.com, which provides similar information, but expands on how food can be stored, defrosted and prepared for best results.

According to StillTasty, green bell peppers will stay fresh longer than red or orange. To freeze, cut and place pepper slices on a cookie sheet and put the whole thing in the freezer. Once frozen transfer the slices to a freezer-safe plastic bag.

Unfortunately, StillTasty does not seem to have a smartphone application and its website is not very mobile friendly. The information, however, is value enough that it's worth checking out.

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