Food gone bad? There's an app for that!

Food gone bad? There's an app for that!

28 Apr 2011    

A new application available for Apple devices -- iPhone and iPod touch -- helps protect consumers from bad leftovers. The "4-Day Throw Away" application, available now from the App Store, is an extension of the 4-Day Throw Away campaign, which educates consumers about the dangers of foodborne illnesses and the four-day guideline for eating, freezing, or throwing away leftovers.

"The 4-day guideline is a great standard to follow if you are unsure whether a leftover food item is OK to eat or not," said Julie Albrecht, UNL Extension food specialist. "But some foods are OK to eat for longer periods of time, while some should actually be thrown out sooner." Many consumers don't realize how quickly food leftovers can become unsafe or spoil.

The application, along with the rest of the campaign, is not only informing consumers about food leftovers, but helping them to practice safe leftover usage and food storage in their homes. The "4-Day Throw Away" application features hundreds of individual food items which can be easily searched by food categories or keywords. Listed under each food item are storage recommendations, reheating instructions and special considerations. The application also gives information on related foodborne illnesses, with details on symptoms, duration, complications and prevention.

"We really wanted to provide as many details as possible for this application, and our team pulled together lots of great information from the USDA and compiled it into an easy-to-use format," said Ruth Litchfield, Iowa State University Extension nutrition specialist.

The "4-Day Throw Away" application can be downloaded from the App Store on your computer or device. For additional information about the 4-Day Throw Away campaign, visit its Facebook page at or view several videos on YouTube at starring the giant, red 4 mascot.

The 4-Day Throw Away campaign is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and is a partnership between Iowa State University Extension and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

Many consumers don't realize how quickly food leftovers can become unsafe and cause foodborne illnesses. That's why a giant, red 4 has arrived with the message "after four days, throw it away!"

"We discovered that many consumers are keeping and eating leftovers well past the recommended amount of time, which can lead to foodborne illnesses," said Albrecht. "The campaign aims to not only make them aware of the four-day guideline, but also get them to start practicing it in their homes." Albrecht said 25-to-40-year-old parents of young children are a key target for the campaign. The campaign message is being supported through traditional channels, but also has a social media presence on.

"We really wanted to reach this audience online where they spend their time, but also give them the opportunity to have a conversation about food safety and ask questions of our experts," Albrecht said.

The 4 also stars in a series of four videos portraying common leftovers bad practices where intervention by 4 keeps families safe from foodborne illnesses.

College of Education and Human Sciences
Nutrition and Health Sciences