By: David Fikes, Vice President, Consumer/Community Affairs and Communication, Food Marketing Institute
Supermarkets have an array of fresh, frozen and prepared foods. Your store maintains quality assurance and sanitation standards to ensure customers receive fresh, wholesome and safe food products. After purchase, though, it’s up to the shopper to take care of their purchases properly. Well, now there is an app that can help.
Originally, the FoodKeeper was a publication developed by Cornell University’s Department of Food Science, FMI and USDA. The brochure contains valuable advice to help consumers understand the shelf life of products when stored in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer In 2014, the brochure was updated with new items, food safety recommendations and an online searchable database was created for easy anytime access. In 2015, the partners turned the publication’s guidelines into a FoodKeeper app, available for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android devices.
This FoodKeeper 2.0 has implications for food retailers beyond helping customers with food safety practices; it also can help shoppers reduce their food waste. Every year, billions of pounds of good food go to waste in the U.S. because home cooks are not sure of the quality or safety of items. Industry groups such as the Food Waste Reduction Alliance are working collaboratively to decrease food waste while increasing the donation of safe, nutritious food. While these large scale efforts reduce industry food waste, consumer education and the actions of individual households can have an equally powerful effect. Food waste from households represents about 44 percent of all food waste generated in the U.S., and it is estimated that 20 pounds of food is wasted per person per month.
The FoodKeeper application offers users valuable food safety advice and specific storage guidance on nearly 500 food and beverage items, including various types of baby food, dairy products and eggs, meat, poultry, produce, seafood, and more. The FoodKeeper app also includes an optional feature that reminds shoppers to use items before they are likely to spoil. With The FoodKeeper application shoppers can:
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 devices’ calendar when products were purchased and receive notifications when they are nearing the end of their recommended storage date;
Search the application with swipe gestures or voice control; and,
Submit a question to USDA using the ‘Ask Karen’ feature of the application. ‘Ask Karen’ is USDA’s virtual food handling and food safety representative. The system provides information about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products.
The FoodKeeper mobile app is the latest resource for food retailers to help shoppers with both food safety at home and food waste. Encourage your shoppers to download the FoodKeeper for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android devices.