Since product dates aren't a guide for safe use of a product, how long can the consumer store the food and still use it at top quality? Follow these tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Ÿ Purchase the product before the date expires.

Ÿ If perishable, take the food home immediately after purchase and refrigerate it promptly. Freeze it if you can't use it within times recommended on chart.

Ÿ Once a perishable product is frozen, it doesn't matter if the date expires because foods kept frozen continuously are safe indefinitely.

Ÿ Follow handling recommendations on product.