I left a frozen wet cured fully cooked ham still in the shrink wrap in a cool water circulation last night to thaw it. At some point my wife used the faucet and set the temp on the tap up. When I reached in to pull the drain, the water was warm and so was the ham. It had been in this warm state for no more than 3 hours. I shot a temp on the exterior of the ham and it read 100.2F. I immediately put it back in the frig to wait till the morning to cook. Will it be safe to consume after reaching 160?

1 Answer 1


I am usually loath to say out loud that you can feel safe going outside of government guidelines, even if I wouldn't hesitate to eat the food myself. In this rare case I will throw caution to the wind. Oh for heaven's sake, cured ham? Warm for <3 hours? Yes, you can eat it.

I can't swear that it is actually safe, but you're probably more likely to be struck by lightning than to be made sick by that ham (unless by some weird twist of fate, it was tainted to begin with).

The official USDA line is that 40F - 140F is the "danger zone", and any food that is susceptible to becoming dangerous is dangerous if it has spent more than 2 hours (cumulative, as in ever) in that temperature zone. That is obviously very, very conservative. Curing adds another layer of preservation/safety to the meat.The USDA would say that your ham needs to be thrown out. I say pass the mustard.

If any member of your family is pregnant or immunocompromised, give them actual "safe" food.

  • Thanks for the reply. I was thinking along the same lines but I was concerned with the amount of carry over temp it had. Im not going to break out the old physics book for some thermal dynamics but I would assume the ham stayed above 40 for at least another 3 or 4 hours. I put it in my beer frig which stays a nice 32 for lagers. Am I misinterpretating? Having said that... it's in the oven right now. The initial smell test was good but the more I think about the family coming over and getting sick the more I start to smell troube
    – daveface
    Dec 19, 2014 at 15:54
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    In addition to @Jolenealaska's great answer which I'd love to see more often here. You have to think why people originally cured meats. From what I can see it first came about in 5000BC almost 7000 Years before the Fridge was invented. Some methods even included burying it the ground for month's. Which although the temperature may not have been 37c down there I'm sure it was no where near the now recommended <= 4c. If you or your family get sick from this ham I'll happily eat the remains I'm that certain you won't get ill.
    – Doug
    Dec 19, 2014 at 17:56
  • I think the temperature at 6ft below, is around 10-12c...
    – Doug
    Dec 19, 2014 at 18:02
  • @daveface A solution would be to buy another ham (or order pizza) for your family and slice the ham in Ziploc sized aliquots to be frozen. Defrost the packs one at a time (in the fridge please) and use for sandwiches
    – Jolenealaska
    Dec 19, 2014 at 21:20

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