If you were to open a packet of cooked ham slices and they were wet, is that a bad sign? Are they gone bad? Is it ok to eat them?

3 Answers 3


Extra water in cooked ham is 100% fine to eat, see here. In general, you can use the printed "use by" date if you're in the US and you'll be safe. I'm adding my answer to provide an authoritative source for you, so you'll know for certain you won't get sick from it.

Quotation, for @adamlynch:

HAM: In order to be labeled as "Ham," the product must be at least 20.5% protein in lean portion as described in 9 CFR 319.104. Added water is permitted in a product labeled as "Ham." In fact, water will be declared in order of predominance in the ingredients statement. This is how the cure solution is introduced into a ham.

HAM AND WATER PRODUCTS X% of Weight is Added Ingredients: Product contains more additives than a "Ham Water Added," but the product name must indicate percent of "added ingredients." For example, "Ham and Water Product 25% of Weight is Added Ingredients" for any canned ham with less than 17.0% protein.

As you can see, water added to ham is perfectly safe to eat, as it's normal for it to be present in the ham.

  • I don't see where in the source it says anything like "extra water in cooked ham is 100% fine to eat"
    – Adam Lynch
    Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 15:17
  • @AdamLynch quotation added. Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 15:41

Yes, they are okay to eat.

There is a rumour here (Europe), but I don't know if it's true, that companies put water in the ham to have more weight. And of course, water costs less than ham, so they have more profit.

  • I think it's more along the lines that they are in such a rush to get the product to market, that they don't hang it to dry. The just throw the ham in the package and let it finish brining in there. Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 15:17
  • 3
    No, they add water to improve the texture of reformed ham. Better quality ham usually notes 'No Added Water' on the packet. Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 15:53
  • 1
    As @ElendilTheTall said, it's not rumour, it's fact. It also applies to a lot of meat as you'll quite often find chicken breasts, for example, that have been injected with water (plus salt, etc,..) to "pump up" the weight =/
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 22:36
  • @Rob: That's not really what Elendil said - he said that they add water for a different reason, not weight.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 2:37
  • I think added water for weight applies more to raw meat than cooked ham. Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 7:16

It is true water is added, but I beleive in USA only a certain percentage it allowed. It can also be a sign that the packages was almost if not completely frozen. When that happens, defronsting forces out the water. I just wrap the entire stack in paper towels and let it sit on a plate for a few minutes to draw out the extra water.

Chances are it is fine, but always use your nose and follow my simple philosophy... When in doubt, throw it out. It's much cheaper than getting food poisoning.

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