Ham is a processed pork foodstuff, which undergoes preservation through curing, smoking, or salting. Cooked leg of pork is called gammon. Ham was traditionally made only from the hind leg of swine, and referred to that specific cut of pork. Ham is made around the world, including a number of regional specialties, although the term now has wider usage and can also be used to refer to meat which has been through a process of re-forming.
The precise nature of meat termed "ham" is controlled, often by statute, in a number of areas, including the United States and European Union, meaning that only products meeting a certain set of criteria can be called ham.
Ham is also often colloquially used to mean any sliced preserved meat, regardless of the animal it is made from, although this is usually qualified with the species of animal as with turkey ham.
Because of the preservation process, ham is a compound foodstuff or ingredient, being made up of the original meat, as well as the remnants of the preserving agent(s), such as salt, but it is still recognised as a food in its own right.
There are several methods for producing ham from raw meat, and this is undertaken to preserve and flavour the meat. Most ham is safe to eat following preservation, without the need for cooking.