BILLIONS of pounds of good food goes to waste in the U.S. every year because home cooks are not sure of the safety of the items. The USDA estimates that 21% of the available food in the U.S. goes uneaten at the consumer level. That means 36 pounds of food per person is wasted every month at the retail and consumer levels! That’s a lot of waste.
How can we stop that?
Technology to the rescue! The USDA, Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute got together to create an app to help you avoid that problem. Appropriately enough, it’s called the FoodKeeper and is available for both Android and Apple devices.
The purpose of the FoodKeeper is to help consumers understand how different food storage methods affect shelf life to help maximize the storage life of foods and beverages in the home. The application also has programmable calendar alerts to notify you to use certain items before they are likely to go bad.
Here’s how it works.
The FoodKeeper application offers users helpful advice for storing more than 400 food and beverage items. These include baby food, dairy products and eggs, meat, poultry, produce, and seafood. It will help you with specific storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, depending on the type of product. There are also tips for different ways to properly cook meat, poultry and seafood products to be sure they are safe to consume. In addition, the app allows you to ask the USDA a using the Ask Karen feature. Ask Karen is USDA’s 24/7 virtual representative. It provides information about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and the safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products.
Food Waste Challenge
The FoodKeeper application was created as part of a larger cooperative effort between the USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. Launched in 2013, the Food Waste Challenge calls on participants all along the food chain – farms, agricultural processors, food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, universities, schools, and local governments – to join efforts in reducing food waste in the U.S. A three-pronged approach was taken:
- Reduce food waste by improving product development, storage, shopping/ordering, marketing, labeling, and cooking methods
- Recover food waste by connecting potential food donors to hunger relief organizations like food banks and pantries
- Recycle food waste to feed animals or to create compost, bioenergy, and natural fertilizers
Find out more and join the U.S. Food Waste Challenge on their website. By accepting the challenge, your organization or business can demonstrate its commitment to reducing food waste, helping to feed the hungry in your community, and reducing the environmental impact of wasted food. Check it out today.
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