New Food Safety Tools Included in Latest USDA FoodKeeper Update

The app has been updated to include information in Spanish and Portuguese

New Food Safety Tools Included in Latest USDA FoodKeeper Update
Image: Pixabay
July 6, 2016

Do you need a little help keeping track of the food in your fridge? Try the FoodKeeper app.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will roll out new features for its popular app, which will increase the app's food safety features while empowering more consumers help reduce food waste.

"The FoodKeeper app is a very handy and easy tool to use, and it reflects USDA's commitment to provide consumers with information and knowledge so they can make informed decisions," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a written statement. "This app empowers people to help meet our nation's food waste reduction goals, and it also links to our virtual food safety resources that answer common questions about how to safely handle, prepare and store foods. Adding food recall alerts to the app's capabilities makes the FoodKeeper a top-notch tool for consumer engagement and protection."

The app has been updated to include information in Spanish and Portuguese, making it easier for Spanish and Portuguese speakers to use its storage recommendations for 400+ items covered by the tool, including various types of baby food, dairy products and eggs, meat, poultry, produce, seafood, and more. The next planned update, coming in September, will allow the app to alert users of food recalls and include instructional videos on proper handling and storage of food.

FoodKeeper was developed by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), in partnership with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, as a tool to help reduce food waste by sharing storage methods that extend the shelf life of the foods and beverages in American homes. Since it was launched in April 2015, it has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

The FoodKeeper app allows users to:

  • Find specific storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, depending on the nature of the product.
  • Get cooking tips for cooking methods of meat, poultry, and seafood products.
  • Note in their device's calendar when products were purchased and receive notifications when they are nearing the end of their recommended storage date.
  • Submit a question to USDA using the 'Ask Karen' feature of the application. 'Ask Karen' is USDA's 24/7 virtual representative. The system provides information about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products.
  • Submit items not included in the database for consideration in future updates.

Consumers can download the FoodKeeper app through the Google Play or iTunes stores.