Have you ever opened the refrigerator or cupboard and wondered, “is this safe to eat?” “Has it been in here too long?” It can boggle the mind. On the one hand, it is good to stretch food resources and save money. On the other hand, I don’t want to be known for poisoning the family at Thanksgiving with my cooking. This is a story that would live on forever. It would be retold at Holiday meals and family gatherings for generations. They would say, “remember when Yvette almost killed us with her cooking?”
According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 6 Americans suffers from a foodborne illness every year caused by food or beverages. Sadly, most of these cases were preventable.
In April 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an app for Android and Apple devices to help consumers decide what foods are safe and what foods should be pitched. The free app is called Foodkeeper. It provides guidelines for consumers to maintain the freshness and quality of their food. The app is user-friendly and also includes all of those hard to determine products like condiments, tea bags, and spices.
The app comes in handy during family debates over food safety decision-making. For example, what happens when Grandma Graham insists on using the leftover Thanksgiving olives for our family Christmas dinner? Grandma prides herself on experience and saving money, but the olives have been in the refrigerator for four weeks now. I am really unsure about using them. I do not want to make anyone sick with contaminated olives. The Foodkeeper can help determine if the olives are safe.
In just a few seconds we find out that the freshness range for unopened black and green olives is 12-18 months from the date of purchase in the pantry. Opened olives are good for two weeks in the refrigerator.
Despite grandma’s advice, the United States Department of Agriculture determined that the olives probably should not be eaten at our Christmas dinner. It is best to throw them away and keep everyone safe from foodborne illness.
The app has many features, cooking times, calendar reminders and more. For additional information about the features of the Foodkeeper app check out the USDA blog. http://go.osu.edu/foodkeeper