The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new updates to its popular FoodKeeper application that will provide users with new information on food safety recalls. The app has been updated so users can choose to receive automatic notifications when food safety recalls are announced by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In the update posted to the Google Play and iTunes stores, users can select to receive information on food safety recalls immediately when they’re announced or select to receive them daily or weekly. The update also adds instructional videos on proper handling and storage of food, and expands the list of food and beverage products from about 400 to more than 500 items.
"This is a great way for the public to stay informed when food is recalled,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg. “The FoodKeeper app is a very handy and easy to use tool; and it reflects USDA's commitment to provide the public with information and knowledge to help them make informed decisions.
The FoodKeeper app was developed by FSIS in partnership with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, as a tool to help reduce food waste and improve public health by sharing storage methods that extend the shelf life of the foods and beverages in American homes. It now offers specific storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer and pantry, for more than 500 products, including various types of baby food, dairy products and eggs, meat, poultry, produce, seafood and more. Since it was launched in April 2015, it has been downloaded nearly 150,000 times.
"These updates to the FoodKeeper are just one more example of FSIS' commitment to reducing the rates of foodborne illness nationally," said Rottenberg. "We want to make sure the valuable recall information FSIS and FDA publish is available to as many Americans as possible. With the expansion of products covered in the apps database, this app is helpful to any type of consumer, and I encourage anyone who hasn't already done so, to download and begin using the FoodKeeper app."
With the FoodKeeper application, each user can:
- Find specific storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer and pantry, depending on the nature of the product;
- Learn cooking tips and methods for various types 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;
- Receive information on food safety recalls immediately when they’re announced or select to receive them daily or weekly.
For those that do not have access to a smartphone, the FoodKeeper app can also be accessed at FoodSafety.gov/FoodKeeper.