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If a ham was cooked for 20 mins in an oven before realising that there was a layer of oven cleaner in the oven, is the meat safe to eat?

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I'm not sure what kind of cleaner you used, but either way, the heat changes the molecular structure of the cleaner used and 'gases' it, allowing it to permeate into your food. It is a shame, but throw it away.

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first off, what type of oven cleaner? If you are using a natural cleaning remedy such as baking soda, then yes, if using a commercial caustic soda based product I would say no. This is besides the fact that the ham will taste of cleaning product. Imagine using flavored 'chips' on your BBQ, that is in effect what you are doing with your oven cleaner. By stating that baking soda is natural I appear to have caused offense, no baking soda is not natural, however it is far less harmful than caustic soda, I have yet to find a recipe that calls for caustic soda (save olives from the tree - but that is off topic). There really is only one short answer here and that is, throw the Ham away, thoroughly clean your oven, turn the oven on afterwards to ensure that any traces of cleaner are burnt off, then start again...

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    Baking soda is no more "natural" than caustic soda. It could even have been made in the same factory. But a paste of baking soda and water is much less likely to taint the food or do you any harm than caustic soda plus detergents plus... – Chris H Dec 23 '16 at 11:10
  • Pretzels sometimes call for boiling in lye, a more caustic base than baking soda... – NMJD Dec 23 '16 at 23:03

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