Prosciutto –– salty, thinly sliced, cured ham –– tastes delicious on its own or combined with warm toast, sharp cheeses or blended in a rich sauce. Strictly regulated by the government in Italy, the process of raising the stock, butchering the carcass and air-curing the meat are closely inspected to create a high quality product that is safe to consume. However, if the proper precautions have not been taken to preserve this tender and salty snack, you could become seriously ill. It's important to know the difference between edible prosciutto and meat that should be discarded.
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Look at the date on the package. Pre-sliced prosciutto will have either a 90- or 120-day expiration date, depending on the size of the ham. Do not consume if the meat is over the expiration date.
Look at the color. Open the package of meat. The meat should have a reddish-pink color to it, while the fat should look white or pale ivory. Prosciutto should not look gray, green or blue in color. This indicates the meat has spoiled.
Smell the meat. Prosciutto should smell fresh and have a salty, bacon-like scent. Sour odors emanating from the meat is a tell-tale sign it is no longer fresh.
Feel the meat. As the lactic acid breaks down the meat, it can cause a slimy texture that coats the surface. Meat should feel dry or slightly moist to the touch. The meat should not feel slimy or gooey.