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Food Safety Issues/vacuum packaged fully cooked ham


Is it safe to eat a fully cooked ham that was originally vacuum packed but has now ballooned out? It has no bad odor or coloring.

Hi Rita,

You didn't say how long you have had the ham or if it is still within it's "Best if used by" or "sell by" date.  

If they are still within this time frame, 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 the ham could still be quite safe to consume at this point, eventually it could lead to off flavors and spoilage.

If they are still within the time frame mentioned above and the ham has been refrigerated the entire time that you have had it, then I would return it to the store where purchased.


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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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