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Food Safety Issues/vacuum packed spiral cut ham left out


we received a gift basket 4 days ago and were unaware it contained a vacuum packed full cooked spiral cut ham (Hempler's brand).  We set the basket in our living room under the tree. 4 days later we were told the ham was in the basket.  any chance it is safe to re-heat and eat?

Hi John,

This is a good question since there is no way of telling if the ham is safe to consume or not. Bacteria that cause man harm do not give off any signals they are present. In other words you can't see, taste or smell the kind of bacteria that can make you ill.

While vacuum packaging does increase the shelf life of products, it does not automatically make foods that require refrigeration safe when left in the "Danger Zone" -- 41 to 135 degrees F. If this were true then we would vacuum package all potentially hazardous foods and not worry about refrigeration or heating to make them safe to consume.  While most bacteria that cause man harm need air to survive, there are a few that only grow in the absence of air.  Thus when you leave a food at room temperature for 4 days it is possible that bacteria that don't require air grew.

Is there a chance it is safe to re-heat and eat?  Sure. But do you want to take the chance of being ill over the holidays?

Best advice...pitch the ham.



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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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