If you still have a hell of a lot of meat left on your baked leg of ham from Christmas Day, you might want to get eating. Fast.
Healthy experts have warned that a leg of ham only lasts for 3 to 5 days after you’ve cooked it, advising that after that point the meat should be frozen.
If you didn’t cook your Christmas ham before tucking into it, you can still eat it for another 5 to 7 days - or up to the ‘use by date’ as recommended by the ham manufacturers.
However if your leg of ham has been cured, you could get up to two weeks out of it - as long as it’s been stored and refrigerated properly.
That means making sure been stored in a damp ham bag which has been soaked in a mixture of water and vinegar (2 cups of water to 1 capful of white vinegar) - repeating that soaking process every 2-3 days.
It’s also important to make sure that your ham has been kept refrigerated in the coldest part of the fridge - a common trap for some people.
‘They take it out of the fridge, cut their meat off it, go have lunch, and come back to it,’ Aussie butcher Des Munroe tells the Sunshine Coast Daily. ‘They're really putting their health at risk if they leave it go (for) too long.
‘If they're not going to use it just bang it in the freezer.’
Queensland doctor John Kenafake also warned that Australia’s warm weather means we’re more susceptible to food poisoning, echoing the warnings to look after our hams properly.
‘Food poisoning happens all times of the year but it's probably more common over the summer months,’ he said.
‘If you don't look after food it's easy for bacteria to grow.’
‘We're all covered in bacteria, its everywhere. Fridges are means of preserving meat but that doesn't protect them indefinitely.’
FOOD POISONING: THE FACTS*
Food poisoning is caused by bacteria, viruses or toxins in the food we eat. Some of these toxins are found naturally in foods, while some have accumulated in the environment.
If you have food poisoning you’ll probably have gastroenteritis symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhoea or vomiting, or flu-like symptoms. Food poisoning can also cause serious long-term problems like kidney failure.
You should seek medical advice if you’re in a high-risk group or have any of the following symptoms:
- frequent vomiting
- bloody vomit or stools
- diarrhoea for more than three days
- extremely painful abdominal cramping
- a temperature higher than 38.6°C
- dehydration from repeated vomiting or diarrhoea
- blurry vision, muscle weakness or tingling in the arms.
* Source: Food Safety Information Council