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Food Safety…there’s an app for that, too.
There’s a phone app for almost everything these days. It seems like you can’t go on a plane or make a restaurant reservation without an app.
Well, there’s another one that can help you with food safety.
In last week’s column I talked about safely storing leftovers and mentioned the United State Department of Agriculture’s (USDAs) FoodKeeper App as a resource to help you determine the safe storage time of leftovers and other foods in your home.
I hope you’ve had a chance to check this out. I’ve had it on my phone for a couple of weeks and have found it a useful tool.
It was developed by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute. It’s available for both Android and Apple devices. It’s free of charge.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have a smart phone or you don’t want to put it on your phone, there really isn’t an option for a regular computer. All the information is on the USDA and Food Safety.gov websites, but it does take some searching, the FoodKeeper App offers it all in one location.
FoodKeeper can help you understand food and beverage storage so you can maximize the freshness, quality and safety of your food. The app can help you find specific storage timelines for refrigerator, freezer and pantry foods. It also provides cooking tips and cooking methods for meat, poultry and seafood products.
Once you get the app, you can search the categories provided or type in key word to find the food item. There are over 400 food and beverage items in the search application. Once you tag your favorites and most often eaten foods. They then will pop up in your “favorites” list. There is also a way to set a calendar reminder for both refrigerated and frozen foods…so you won’t forget to eat the leftovers or lose food in the back of the freezer.
Here’s an example. I looked up leftovers with meat, fish, poultry or egg. It says for freshness and quality, this item should be consumed within 3-4 days if refrigerated or 2-3 months if frozen. After it told me this, it asked if I wanted to put in my calendar. After allowed it access to my calendar…it was there! On the correct calendar date it said…remember to use leftovers.
FoodKeeper doesn’t just tell you about food storage, but it has a direct information from the USDA on preventing food waste, shopping, pantry storage and food product dating. There are even videos you can watch within the app. I especially like the section on fresh produce.
Here are some tips from them on the “exceptions” when storing raw fruits and vegetables:
- Onions, garlic, potatoes and winter squash can be stored unrefrigerated in a cool, dark place.
- Tomatoes taste best not refrigerated. They become mealy in cold storage.
- Bananas will not ripen while cold. If you put a banana in the fridge the skin will blacken, but it will be safe to eat.
- Apples, mangos and stone fruit (peaches, plums, apricots) can be stored at room temperature, but they should be refrigerated as they ripen.
Another section that’s really handy to have right there in the app on your phone is on cooking meats, fish, eggs and poultry. There’s a chart listing the important internal cooking temperature for these foods.
There’s also a section on food recalls. You can filter by dates so you search the latest recalls or go back as far back as 2006. You can also choose to receive automatic notification when a new food safety recall is announced. I did that and was surprised to get two over this past weekend.
I really didn’t need (or want) another app on my phone. Put I have found this one helpful.
Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610