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New USDA 'FoodKeeper' App: Your New Tool for Smart Food Storage

Posted by Christopher Bernstein, Food Safety Education Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA in Health and Safety
Feb 21, 2017
Image of person using app in refrigerator. Text overlay reads: “Are these leftovers still good? There’s an app for that now, the FoodKeeper.”
Have questions about items in your refrigerator or pantry? USDA has a new app that can help.

How many times have you gone into your pantry or refrigerator, only to find that what you were going to use in your meal was spoiled? The USDA, Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute would like to help you avoid that problem in the future with our new application, the FoodKeeper.

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. USDA estimates that 21% of the available food in the U.S. goes uneaten at the consumer level. In total, 36 pounds of food per person is wasted each month at the retail and consumer levels!

Our new application will help you understand how different storing methods affect a product’s shelf life. This should help you maximize the storage life of foods and beverages in your home. In addition, the application can remind you to use items before they are likely to spoil.

Application Features

The FoodKeeper application offers users valuable storage advice about more than 400 food and beverage items, including various types of baby food, dairy products and eggs, meat, poultry, produce, seafood, and more. With the application you 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 your 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 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.

Food Waste Challenge

The application is part of a larger effort between USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. Launched in 2013, the Food Waste Challenge appeals to participants across the food chain – farms, agricultural processors, food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, universities, schools, and local governments – to join efforts to:

  • 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; and,
  • Recycle food waste to feed animals or to create compost, bioenergy, and natural fertilizers.

By joining the Challenge, organizations and businesses demonstrate their commitment to reducing food waste, helping to feed the hungry in their communities, and reducing the environmental impact of wasted food.

App Specifics

The FoodKeeper was originally a publication containing valuable advice to help consumers understand the shelf life of products when stored in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer. In 2015, partners turned the publication’s guidelines into this application.

The app is available for Android and Apple devices. Storage times listed are intended as useful guidelines and are not hard-and-fast rules. Some foods may deteriorate more quickly while others may last longer than the times suggested.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety

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Apr 20, 2018

The information provided by the app is quite useful and we want to discuss about incorporating some of the components for a project that we are working on. Please advise on contact details for any permissions and appropriate references.

Ben Weaver
Apr 23, 2018

@Hello - Thank you for reaching out! You can contact us at to discuss this further. We look forward to hearing from you.

Larry Armstrong
Aug 13, 2018

Not sure what u want here??? Was trying to get your app ref food safety.

arshad hameed
Aug 16, 2018

dear concern please guide me to install app for smart food storage.

arshad hameed

Ben Weaver
Aug 16, 2018

@arshad hameed – thank you for your comment. You can find the FoodKeeper app in the app store for Android and Apple devices.

william fairbanks
Oct 09, 2018

always question various use by best by dates should be helpful.

william fairbanks
Oct 09, 2018

always looking for food safety information

Cailin Bell
Mar 28, 2019

I think that the concept of this app is very smart and can greatly aid in solving the problem of food wastage. That being said, this application has been around since 2013, ( or the Food Waste Challenge was launched in 2013) however I am only hearing about this 6 years later, in 2019.
I believe that awareness is key to reduce food wastage, and this app is a step in the right direction.
I also think that, although the app may have a lot of useful information, it may be time consuming to take the time to learn and read everything that there is on the app, as well as note down when you bought every single food item you have.
I think, what would make this app better is, rather than it be solely an informational app, including a fun food waste related game so that noting down when you bought items, and learning when things expire become more of a fun experience and more people would get excited about it, and share it around, creating even more awareness.

Aug 02, 2019

Good app