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This dating occurs on all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. This code is merely for tracking purposes and is used only for recalls if needed. Food handling practices at home will also help, as in, defrosting meats in the microwave or in the refrigerator rather than sitting on the counter all day.

So, what do you do if the food product looks, smells, or tastes “okay”? And, in any case, just be aware of the look, taste, and texture of food you are served away from home and outdoors. If you have any questions, call the store you purchased the food from, and/or follow the charts above.

After the date passes, while it may not be the freshest quality, refrigerated products should be safe if handled properly and kept at 40 degrees F or below for the recommended storage times.

Some shoppers will go by the dates on food purchasing guides—provided below.

So for breakfast you'll have a smoothie, and then for lunch you'll journal about that smoothie, and then you put a peanut under your pillow and you hope you dream about pizza.' And I'm like, 'I kind of have to stop you here.

It's sounding like at times I will be hungry, did I miss a couple courses in there...?

Some products even use what is called a Julian Date, which is perfectly understandable as long as you're a mathematician. In other words, almost all food dating relates to the quality of the product, not its safety."The quality characteristics of foods (taste, aroma and appearance -- as distinct from safety characteristics) often depend in great part on good storage conditions: temperature and humidity control in the retail store and warehouse," Herndon said.

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However, Bucknavage suggested a few guidelines on years of testing."Low acid products such as corn, green beans, or tuna can last a good while after the shelf life of that container.

"Closed or coded dates" are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

Except for "use-by" dates, product dates don't always refer to home storage and use after purchase.

Open dating is found primarily on perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.

"Closed" or "coded" dating might appear on shelf-stable products such as cans and boxes of food.

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