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Food Safety Issues/Uncooked spiral ham past "sell by" date


How long can an uncooked spiral ham last in refrigerator. Date says sell buy Mar 7. Today is Mar 28. Is it still in original packaging and never opened. Is it still safe to eat?
Thank you

Hi Mary,

The "sell by" date on the ham is there for the grocery store to help in the rotation of stock.  It is not a "best if used by" date which does mean that the product should be used or frozen by that date for best quality and safety.

An unopened refrigerated ham is usually good up to 2 weeks past the "sell by" date.  Since your ham is now 3 weeks past this date, the chances for food spoilage organisms to now be present has greatly increased.  You may notice a sour smell and/or a dull, slimy texture. If so, the ham should not be consumed.

If you decide to heat and consume the ham, I definitely advise not serving it to young children, the elderly or anyone with a weakened immune system.

Of course...when in doubt, throw it out!


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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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