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New USDA ‘FoodKeeper’ App: Your New Tool for Smart Food Storage

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.

39 Responses to “New USDA ‘FoodKeeper’ App: Your New Tool for Smart Food Storage”

  1. Lucille Dwyer says:

    HI Karen, I saw this chart in REAL SIMPLE magazine March issue and would love the physical chart or app. Thanks

  2. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Lucille – thank you for your comment. That chart was developed by REAL SIMPLE based on the information in our new app. To download it, visit:

    iOS version for iPhones and iPads
    Android version for smartphones and tablets

  3. C B Knox says:

    Typical government agency publication – long on claims and short on information – like how to download the application.

  4. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @C B Knox – thank you for your comment. To download the FoodKeeper application, please visit the below links.

    iOS version for iPhones and iPads
    Android version for smartphones and tablets

  5. Cerise says:

    What about a download for computers? I don’t see one.

  6. GEAH says:

    Is the USDA saying we should ignore expiration dates on products and go with an app instead?

  7. Cheryl says:

    Not everyone has a smart phone. How can I download the information to my PC?

  8. Jess B says:

    Where is the WP version?

  9. C.McPheeters says:

    And what of the people with no smartphone, no tablet or other relevant device? No “old school” version say in PDF form?

  10. bchampagne says:

    USDA FoodKeeper need a ver. for windows phones would really help out

  11. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @bchampagne – thank you for the suggestion, we are currently working on improvements to the application, and intend to include a Windows Phone version with a future release.

  12. Jean says:

    What’s with it has to be Android 4.4 and up? 4.1.2 is not that old. Guess I won’t be using this app. Thanks for nothing.

  13. Mark says:

    It would also be nice to have a link to the information to click on and bring up on my computer, for those of us without smartphones.

  14. Dale Wilkins says:

    How can I view this FoodKeeper publication on a Desktop computer?

  15. Kate says:

    Do I have to type in my food purchases or can I use my phone to scan in barcode?

  16. Just Observing says:

    The app is great, but it needs to be more specific on each product whether we are talking about opened product, unopened product, cooked product, uncooked product, etc. The app selectively does this with some products but not all. For example, for cereal it provides shelflife of unopened boxes and opened boxes — perfect. But, for example, with BBQ sauce, it says 12 months in the pantry and 4 months in the fridge — is this opened or unopened? The app is useless if we don’t know this info.

  17. Robert says:

    To paraphrase what’s on the app “xxx should be consumed within 12 months” Is the 12 months AFTER the expiration date?

  18. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Robert – thank you for your comment. The guidance offered in the application is after the date of purchase, unless otherwise noted. We are working to make this more clear in an update coming later this summer.

  19. Peggy Enquist says:

    Where’s the BlackBerry version?

  20. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Peggy Enquist – thank you for your question. We do not have plans to release a BlackBerry version, but the system will soon be available on FoodSafety.gov for non- Android or iOS users.

  21. sri says:

    This is great! Is there a place we can get the database that this app is talking to? We have a food app, and it would be great to incorporate this data into it. Is there any place we can get a list of food:best_before_date database? Thanks.

  22. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @sri – Great idea! The spreadsheet the application runs from is available for download here: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/f361c866-5f1c-4b8a-87b6-939db9df61a0/FoodKeeper-Data.xls?MOD=AJPERES

  23. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Just Observing – This summer we will be finishing an update to the application that addresses exactly this. We will provide more clear guidance on what storage timelines mean across all items, covering storage after purchase, after opening, after preparation, etc.

  24. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Kate – good question. Currently you must type or select the items manually, the application does not support scanning barcodes.

  25. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Dale Wilkins – The application will also be available on FoodSafety.gov in the near future for those that do not wish to use it on smartphones or tablets. If you would like a physical copy of the publication visit http://www.fmi.org/industry-topics/consumer-affairs/food-keeper-food-storage-database

  26. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Mark – The application will also be available on FoodSafety.gov in the near future for those that do not wish to use it on smartphones or tablets.

  27. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @C.McPheeters – The application will also be available on FoodSafety.gov in the near future for those that do not wish to use it on smartphones or tablets. If you would like a physical copy of the publication visit http://www.fmi.org/industry-topics/consumer-affairs/food-keeper-food-storage-database

  28. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Jess B – good question. Currently we only offer the application for download on iOS and Android platforms. If you would like to use this tool on WP, please visit FoodSafety.gov. Soon the application will be available there for those. If you would like a physical copy of the publication visit http://www.fmi.org/industry-topics/consumer-affairs/food-keeper-food-storage-database

  29. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Cheryl – The application will also be available on FoodSafety.gov in the near future for those that do not wish to use it on smartphones or tablets. If you would like a physical copy of the publication visit http://www.fmi.org/industry-topics/consumer-affairs/food-keeper-food-storage-database

  30. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Cerise – The application will also be available on FoodSafety.gov in the near future for those that do not wish to use it on smartphones or tablets. If you would like a physical copy of the publication visit http://www.fmi.org/industry-topics/consumer-affairs/food-keeper-food-storage-database

  31. Donna says:

    Any update about when the application will be available on FoodSafety.gov ?

  32. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Donna – the app is now available online at: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp/index.html

  33. Bob Pokorny says:

    How do I download the App.

  34. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Bob Pokorny – good question. The app can be downloaded on the Google Play store for Android devices here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.usda.fsis.foodkeeper&hl=en and on the iTunes store for Apple/iOS devices here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/usda-foodkeeper/id978186100?mt=8

  35. Jenifer says:

    Great resource! Thank you for making this available. and thanks to “Thrillist” for making me aware that it exists.

  36. David says:

    Whom can I contact with a media inquiry about FoodKeeper?

  37. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @David – good question. FSIS’s Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education can be reached at 202-720-9113.

  38. riyas says:

    Good How to Download your app

  39. Sandra says:

    We need that app on fire.

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