Food Safety Issues/Vacumn packed smoked ham


I purchased several ham butt portions 3 weeks ago to put into gift boxes for delivery soon.  They have been stored in a walk-in cooler kept at 37 degrees ever since.  I recently noticed that the packages have expanded with air in them.  The expiration date is mid-January. I do this every year and I have never experienced this problem.  Are they okay?  Do you suggest I open one for myself and determine from there?

Hi Helen,

Chances are that the swelling is due to the production of carbon dioxide by lactic acid producing bacteria and yeasts on the surface of the ham. The swelling of the packages could be caused by a high concentration of carbohydrates in the cure that can cause bacteria and yeasts to ferment (produce carbon dioxide) and produce gas.

While they could still be quite safe to consume at this point, eventually it could lead to off flavors and spoilage.

I encourage you to contact the store where you purchased the hams since you have properly stored the hams since purchase and they should have remained as purchased for at least another month.

Good luck Helen and Happy Holidays.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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