Food Safety Issues/ham safety


someone at our church took several small, pre-packaged hams out of the freezer and put them on the counter to thaw, and forgot them. They were there from noon, or earlier, on Sunday until Monday morning about 8:30 am, when I found them. At that time, they were at room temperature. I put them back in the refrigerator, but want to know if it is safe to use them for a dinner we are serving 60 people (many are kids) on Wed night.

Hi Shar,

While it is entirely possible that that ham is perfectly safe to heat and consume on Wednesday night, it is also possible that the time that it spent at room temperature "jump started" any bacteria present and could make those who consume it ill. The problem is you can't tell by sight, smell or taste as food borne illness bacteria give off no signals that they are present. While reheating would kill any live bacteria that may be present, some bacteria have the capability of producing a toxic waste product that is not deactivated by heat.  Thus the recommendation to not take a chance with foods that are capable of easily supporting the growth of harmful bacteria if they have been temperature abused.

Since you are serving children, and they are considered especially vulnerable to food borne illness, your best option is to not serve the ham on Wednesday night.



Food Safety Issues

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.