One of our readers recently sent us this short message, “Are these worms in cooked ham I just ate? If so, what kind are they and what will they do to me? Should I go see a doctor?” She included two photographs with the message. The first shows a piece of ham on some plastic wrap. In the left corner of the ham, there are some tiny white dots. We believe these are the “worms” she is curious about:
From this picture alone, it is impossible to say whether these worm-like organisms are worthy of concern or not. The second photograph shows the potential creatures separate from the ham. They have thin bodies that are either white or black, but we can’t tell if we are looking at the actual color of the creatures or the glare because of the lighting:
We don’t know if these worms are parasites, or if they are even worms! We don’t think they are Trichinella spiralis, which are the parasitic roundworms that cause trichinosis, since they are basically impossible to see with the naked eye (just over a millimeter long!) Also, Trichinella spiralis are present in undercooked or raw meat, but would have been killed once our reader had cooked the ham. As we mentioned, these parasitic roundworms can cause a food borne illness, but wouldn’t typically be seen crawling around in your food.
In conclusion, a reader reached out about finding potential worms in some cooked ham. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do for our reader. We don’t believe she has found Trichinella spiralis, but since we aren’t medical professionals we can’t confirm this without a doubt. If our reader is worried about her health, we strongly recommend that she see a doctor to address her concerns. We wish her the best of luck and good health!