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How to Know When Ham Is Bad

Updated February 21, 2017

Ham, pink-coloured cured pork, can be eaten as lunch meat, served as a side for breakfast or cooked whole for a special dinner. Like most food, ham has a shelf life and can cause food-borne illness if not handled properly. Several culprits can cause food-borne illness, including cooking and storing meat improperly. Use smell, touch and sight to make sure your ham has not gone bad.

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  1. Check to see if you have unopened or opened ham. Unopened ham will last much longer than opened ham. Store all ham in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Keep unopened lunch meat for 2 weeks and canned ham for 6 to 9 months. Opened lunch meat can be kept for 3 to 5 days, fully cooked ham slices for 3 to 4 days and a fully cooked whole ham for up to 7 days.

  2. Look at the ham. If it looks green or grey and does not have a pink colour, like when you bought it, throw it out.

  3. Feel the ham. If it feels slimy, it has gone bad and needs to be disposed of.

  4. Smell the ham. If it has a sour odour, it has gone bad.

  5. Throw away any ham that you may still have after its expiration date.

  6. Tip

    Keep your refrigerator at 4.44 degrees Celsius to slow the spoiling of the ham.

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About the Author

Christina Martinez has been writing professionally since 2007. She's been published in the California State University at Fullerton newspaper, "The Daily Titan." Her writing has also appeared in "Orange County's Best" magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and print journalism from California State University.

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