In the update posted to the Google Play and iTunes stores, users will find a new setting menu offering language options and the ability to display temperatures, weights and measures in Imperial or Metric units. In addition, improvements were also made to how the app syncs with the calendar of smartphones and tablets to reminder users to use food before it may spoil.
"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. "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."
By helping users better understand food storage, the application empowers the public to choose storage methods that extend the shelf life of the food and beverages in their home. Better food storage should reduce food waste and reduce the frequency of users preparing and eating products that may be spoiled.
The FoodKeeper app even offers a way to add reminders to your calendar.
The FoodKeeper app was developed by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service in partnership with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute. Since it was launched in April 2015, it has been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Additional updates are planned for September, which will include information on product recalls and educational videos.
"These updates to the FoodKeeper are just one more example of FSIS' commitment to serving diverse communities," said Deputy Under Secretary of Food Safety Al Almanza. "We want to make sure the valuable information the application offers is available to as many Americans as possible, which is why we are now offering it in additional languages."
With the FoodKeeper application, each user 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 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; and
- Submit items not included in the database for consideration in future updates.
For those that do not have access to a smartphone, the FoodKeeper can also be access at FoodSafety.gov/FoodKeeper.
Throughout the month of July, at the height of summer grilling season, USDA is recognizing improvements made to the U.S. food safety system during the Obama Administration, which are some of the most significant updates made since the 1950s. USDA estimates new food safety standards implemented for meat and poultry will reduce illnesses by about 75,000 annually. USDA has tightened standards for the companies who process and prepare thousands of food products, upgraded technology and internal systems to track and report safety issues to regulators and the public in real time, and knitted together the federal agencies overseeing America's food safety system to ensure standards are tough on behalf of the consumer, vigilant against emerging risks, consistent and coordinated. New consumer-facing tools, like the FoodKeeper app, allow Americans to further guard themselves and their family against foodborne illnesses. More information about these efforts can be found on USDA’s Medium page at http://bit.ly/results-ch7.