My wife and I just got through watching a documentary entitled “Just Eat it“. It talks about the amount of food that is wasted in the US (almost 40%) and the world (almost 30%). That means that of the food that is grown, raised, prepared, packaged, etc… 40% of it ends up being discarded.
By far the worst culprit is the individual household. We over-purchase (Thanks Costco) and end up throwing a lot of the food away, thinking it is no longer good to eat. Part of it is the confusion has to do with consumers not understanding the dates on the products that they purchase. There is, of course, the “sell by” date which only means that the store should try to sell it by this date to ensure that the consumer has a reasonable shelf life let on the item after he or she gets it home. There’s also the “Best used by” date which means that the manufacturer would prefer it to be consumed by that date in order to make sure the consumer gets the best tasting product possible. It might still be good for another 3 weeks or so, depending on the product but consumers see this date and think that they’re going to get food poisoning if they eat it one minute past midnight on that date.
Fortunately, the USDA, in an effort to curb food waste, has come up with an App for your portable device that will help you know if your food should be tossed or if it is still safe to consume it.
The Foodkeeper app is available from the USDA website. Here’s what they have to say about it:
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.