A shop worker has been charged with theft for allegedly helping herself to more than $13,000 worth of deli ham for eight years.

The female grocery store employee was said to have gradually eaten thousands of dollars worth of meat by sneaking as many as five slices of ham a day.

Bosses at the shop first discovered the alleged theft after getting a tip the employee at a Giant Eagle store in Bolivar, around 70 miles south of Cleveland, in eastern Ohio was stealing the expensive meat.

Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Hale told The Columbus Dispatch that an eight-year employee of regional grocery chain was charged on Friday with stealing food estimated by the store to be worth $13,000.

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The store's loss prevention manager received a tip that an employee had been eating three to five slices of ham nearly every day over eight years, local media reported.

Authorities said she mostly ate ham but sometimes salami.

The woman is facing potential theft charges, but the Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Office said in a statement on Facebook that more serious "felony charges are unlikely".

The statement said: "While our office did take a report of the issue as requested by the store, no determination of charges has been made. The procedure is to send the report to the Prosecutor's Office and they are the ones to decide.

"While my office does not have the authority to make the final decision in this case, I do feel confident that once all of the facts are relayed to the prosecutor, felony charges are unlikely."

The sheriff's office added that no arrests and "no formal filing of charges" had taken place yet.

Other details including her name were not available.