Food waste is a major problem, both in America and across the globe. One major factor contributing to this problem: food expiration labels are mad confusing. But while shocking stats—including the fact that America’s food waste totals $160 billion every year—may help draw our attention to the problem, they don’t do much to solve it.

The USDA hopes FoodKeeper, its free new app for iOS and Android, will help make a difference. The app tells you everything you need to know about a product’s shelf life, along with info about safely storing and cooking a variety of foods. It also lets you set reminders on your phone to let you know when your food is about to go bad, so you don’t end up throwing away a whole carton of milk and package of chicken wings.

Currently, there are over 400 common food items in its database, and the USDA plans to keep expanding the list.

fk9waste

The way it works is simple and intuitive. Here’s a quick example:

Pick A Category

fk2

Find Your Item

fk3

Find Out Shelf Life

fk4

And Recommended Cooking Time

fk5

The app even covers foods like baked goods and condiments. Thinking of freezing those leftover doughnuts? Don’t.

fk6

 

Searching Is Smooth, But Doesn’t Always Yield Results

fk11 fk12

Since the app is brand new, and since America eats a wide variety of food, it doesn’t have every single possible food item in the database just yet. If you try searching for something that isn’t listed, the app helpfully refers you to its “Ask Karen” food questions database.

fk10

 

What About Adding Reminders To Your Calendar?

fk13

For those obsessives who want exact dates for when to compost or trash their food, the app can do that—but it’s clunky and needs refinement. To get the screen above to pop up, you have to first navigate through the menus and sub-menus to the food item in question, then click the calendar icon in the top right corner. We’re not sure most people would have the time or patience to go through all that rather than just typing the name of the item in and getting the option to add appropriate dates to their calendar.

We think this app is a useful resource that could be very helpful in the fight against food waste. If the database of foods covered keeps growing, and if that “Add to Calendar” feature gets streamlined, this app could be truly amazing.

[via Food Dive, USDA FSIS]

RELATED: National Geographic Looks At Shocking Global Food Waste