Food Safety Issues/Spiral Ham


Unopened vacuum sealed Smithfield Hickory Smoked Spiral Ham left out of fridge for approximately 9 hours, in unheated basement of home. outdoor temp 44 degrees. Is this unsafe to eat if heated per directions on packaging?

Hi Pat,

Good question and unfortunately there is no definitive answer that will assure that the ham is still safe to heat and eat.

Even vacuum sealed potentially hazardous foods (foods capable of supporting the growth of harmful bacteria when given the right environment) can still become contaminated if left in the danger zone (41 to 135 degrees F) for an extended period of time.  In restaurants, the maximum amount of time a product that was cold (below 41 degrees F) can be at a temperature above 41 is 4 hours and then it must be pitched.  Your ham was out for 9 hours and chances are the temperature in your unheated basement was probably 45 to 50 degrees F.  Since you can't tell if the ham is contaminated by sight, smell or taste, you have to go by the length of time it was in the danger zone as an indication that it could possibly be tainted.  And given that some bacteria produce a waste toxin that is not destroyed by heat, the recommendation is to not take a chance and pitch the ham. Without laboratory analysis, there is no way to tell if the ham is still safe to consume at this point.

Sorry...wish I had better news for you.


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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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