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Foods -- Meat and Poultry

How should a ham be stored?

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Canned Ham. Most canned hams require refrigeration. Do not purchase a canned ham in the store that was not refrigerated if the label states "Keep refrigerated." Other clues that it must be refrigerated are the words "perishable" and "pasteurized." Canned hams that must be refrigerated are pasteurized, not sterilized. Pasteurization reduces the number of microorganisms but does not destroy them all. Refrigeration is necessary to keep the microorganisms from multiplying. If the ham is held at room temperature the microorganisms multiply, making the product unfit for consumption. For best quality, use within six months. Shelf Stable or Sterilized. These hams have been processed at a higher temperature than pasteurized hams and may be stored on the shelf. For best quality, use within one year. Country, or Prosciutto Ham. Country ham and the dry cured Italian prosciutto ham are shelf stable. Refrigerator storage will delay rancidity of the fat. Freezer storage is okay but there will be small changes in texture and flavor. For best quality, use the ham within one year. PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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