April 8, 2009
Making ready-to-eat ham safe for all
Ready-to-eat ham can be eaten cold, but is best reheated for those at risk of a foodborne illness, a U.S. agency advises.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, says those with weakened immune systems -- the very young, the elderly, people with HIV or undergoing chemotherapy -- are at higher risk of foodborne illness. For these, ready-to-eat ham should be reheated until steaming hot or 165 degrees F.
Reheat the ham to an internal temperature of 140 F as measured with a food thermometer for about 10 minutes per pound, a statement from the FSIS says.
Ham, the meat from the hind leg of a hog, is available in many forms. Ready-to-eat and canned hams are cooked at an establishment and ready-to-eat. Fresh hams must be cooked by the consumer before eating and have safe handling instructions on the label.