By peoplestaff225
April 23, 2015 02:00 PM

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Don’t throw that expired yogurt out just yet—it may still be safe to eat.

“Many products may have a sell-by date of, say, April 1, but they could be good in your pantry for another 12 or 18 months,” USDA spokesperson Chris Bernstein said in a blog post video. “And by throwing those out, what you’re doing is you’re contributing to food waste in the United States.”

Americans toss an average of 36 lbs. of food a month. In an effort to reduce that food waste, the USDA and EPA have teamed up in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, which includes the rolling out of an app called FoodKeeper that will give consumers a better shelf life estimate for their every day groceries.

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Tom Colicchio, who recently joined MSNBC as the network’s first-ever food correspondent, said in an interview with NBC that most food expiration dates are not universally regulated (with the exception of baby formula), and that “sell-by,” “best-by,” and “use-by” dates are often integrated and don’t give actionable information.

“If we were to establish a national standard that had two dates, (1) Sell By and (2) Use By, consumers would be able to really plan their eating and shopping in a sensible fashion,” the Top Chef judge said.

FoodKeeper gives specific storage timelines for food kept in your pantry, freezer, fridge, etc. as well as alert you on your mobile device when the milk is about to spoil or the canned beans will go bad so that you’ll be reminded to use them beforehand.

—Morgan Gibson, @morgangibson

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