I just cooked a canned ham for my family. It was fully cooked, and I reheated it well. The problem is that we ate it and then I realized it was supposed to be refrigerated. I had kept it on the shelf. I thought the label meant it should be refrigerated after opening. What is the likelihood that we will all get sick from this? I didn't see or smell anything unusual about the canned ham, and I keep my home pretty cold. I think I have had the ham on the shelf in the pantry for approximately 1-2 months, give or take. Help?

  • 4
    What tells you that it was supposed to be refrigerated prior to being opened? Please tell us the brand name, any "sell by" or "best by" dates on the label and anything on the label that says it's supposed to be refrigerated prior to opening.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 1:46
  • 1
    Also, what country are you in? Are the words "Keep Refrigerated" on the label?
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 1:54
  • If it didn't smell bad or look "off" then you might be ok...More information about the product would be useful. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 18:46
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    Bit worrying the OP hasn't been seen since asking this question. Hopefully they are not being violently ill as a consequence. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 20:23
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    @DavidWilkins Can't argue with that. I hope he comes back some day and tells us the end of the story.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 3:36

1 Answer 1


If the words "Keep Refrigerated" are on the label, and the ham was kept on the shelf for weeks or months, the only answer I can responsibly give is that you should call poison control: 1-800-222-1222 in the USA. If you're not in the USA, Google "Poison Control (your location)" or call a medical professional. Since you've already eaten it and we can't assure you that it was safe, it has become a medical issue - not a culinary one. We are not qualified to answer medical questions.

Canned hams labeled “keep refrigerated” require refrigeration and, unopened, will keep 6 to 9 months in the refrigerator. Processed at a time and temperature sufficient to kill infectious organisms (including Trichinae); however the ham is not sterilized so spoilage bacteria may grow. - USDA

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