Has the gallon of milk you bought last week gone bad? What about the ketchup that’s been in the back of your fridge for months? The easy solution is to check the expiration dates, right?
Not so fast. Those dates actually indicate if the food is still fresh, not if it’s still safe to eat. Plus, there are different types of expiration dates (sell by, use by, and best if used before) that all mean different things. The current system for expiration dates is confusing enough to make us throw up our hands in exasperation—and throw out any of the food in question. That leads to lots of waste. The average American throws out 25 percent of the food they purchase.
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The USDA hopes to help reduce all of that food waste with release of FoodKeeper. The app—available on iOS and Android—quickly became our definitive source for determining if we should keep or chuck food. And to our surprise, we found ourselves keeping food longer.
The app’s interface is super easy to navigate. All we had to do was search for the foods in question to get the answer: Milk lasts for one week if refrigerated and three months if frozen, and ketchup keeps for 12 months in the pantry and six months after opening. We also loved that FoodKeeper synced with our smartphone’s calendar. We entered the dates when we last purchased eggs and chicken, and then it sent us reminders when the food was going bad. And if you still have questions, the app has a feature called Ask Karen, a virtual helper who’s there to answer all of your burning food and nutrition questions.