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USDA expands FoodKeeper App to include food recall alerts

Thanks to recent updates made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, users of the FoodKeeper application can choose to receive automatic notifications for food safety recalls.

Since its launch in April 2015, FoodKeeper has reached about 150,000 downloads. Now, when the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration announce food recalls, users can select to receive alerts as they happen, once a day or weekly.

Accessible on Google Play and iTunes  stores, the recent update includes instruction videos on proper handling and storage of food, along with a list of food and beverage products that has expanded to over 500 product items, according to the USDA’s news release.

“This is a great way for the public to stay informed when food is recalled,” said Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy under secretary for food safety. “The FoodKeeper app is a very handy and easy to use tool.”

Rottenberg said in the news release that she believes the app reflects the USDA’s commitment to provide consumers with information and knowledge that will help them make informed decisions.

FSIS partnered with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute to develop the FoodKeeper app 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,” according to the release.

The recent updates now inform users of specific storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Advice is now available on more than 500 products, including dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, produce, seafood and various types of baby food.

Rottenburg said the updates to the FoodKeeper app should also help reduce foodborne illness across the nation: “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.”

Features of the FoodKeeper application include:

  • Specific storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer and pantry, depending on the nature of the product;
  • Cooking tips and methods for various types of meat, poultry and seafood products;
  • Notices for calendars on mobile or other devices on when products are nearing the end of their recommended storage date;
  • Question forms for USDA’s “Ask Karen” which is USDA’s 24/7 virtual representative. It provides information about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry and egg products; and
  • Submission form for items not included in the database for consideration in future updates.

The FoodKeeper app can also be accessed at FoodSafety.gov/FoodKeeper if interested consumers do not have access to a smartphone.

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