How to Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad: Simple Guide

how to tell if salmon has gone bad

Salmon, which is among the most consumed fish in the United States, is classy and tasty enough to go with almost any other meal. However, it is only delicious if it’s fresh. Unfortunately, some people don’t know how to tell if salmon has gone bad. This article gives you simple tips to help you know when salmon has gone bad.

How Long Does Salmon Last?


Salmon is highly nutritious, with large amounts of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Hence, it is quite expensive compared to other types of seafood. Therefore, you need to know how to choose the right salmon from the shelves and store it properly for longer shelf life.

How long your salmon lasts will depend on how fresh it is when you are buying it. So, when you purchasing your salmon at the grocery store, first check its color. Fresh salmon should be light pink, especially if it’s from a fish farm, and dark pink if it’s from the ocean. Don’t buy any piece of salmon that has any brown or gray blemishes.

Secondly, choose the salmon that looks firm and soggy. Nevertheless, you should trust your instincts: if the salmon looks bad, probably it is bad. You should also smell it before you put it in your shopping basket. Fresh salmon should not smell fishy even when you put your nose next to it.

Once you are certain that your salmon is fresh, the next question to ask yourself is: How long will the salmon last in my fridge? The truth is that salmon, like any other type of fish and seafood, does not stay fresh for very long.

At most, raw salmon will stay fresh for two days in your refrigerator. The long seafood supply chain means that salmon from overseas will take 20-30 days to reach your local grocery store.

But if you source locally processed salmon, it can last up to 5 days in your fridge with proper handling and storage. Therefore, the only way to avoid wasting your money is to buy salmon that will not stay in your fridge for more than two days. If it’s frozen, you should thaw and cook it the same day.

How to Store Salmon


If you have excess salmon that you wish to store in your fridge for a while, understand that the success of the process depends on the preparation. Seasoning your salmon will extend its shelf life and enable it to retain its umami flavor longer.

So, just cover it with salt and leave it for a few hours to allow the salt to extract excess moisture from salmon.

You should then drain the container and rinse off the fillets to get rid of the salt and then dry it perfectly. When you storing your salmon in the fridge, put it in a sealable plastic bag and remove all the air inside.

Store your salmon at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But because most home refrigerators sit at about 38 degrees Fahrenheit, you should lower the temperature on your salmon further by placing it on a bowl full of ice.

If you want your salmon to last longer, you should store it in your freezer. This will extend its shelf life to about 12 months. It can even last longer than this, but its quality will decline tremendously. When you are freezing your salmon, keep the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results.

Another common question that people ask is: Can I freeze a previously frozen salmon? The answer is yes, it’s possible to do so. But you have to remove all the moisture from the salmon before freezing it again so that it can retain its quality, flavor, and texture. When refreezing it, put it in a vacuum-sealed bag or container.

How to Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad


Eating salmon that has gone puts you at risk of food poisoning. So, it’s crucial to know when the salmon in your fridge or at the grocery store has gone bad. Here are some of the easiest ways to tell if your salmon has gone bad.

1. Smell It

The first and most obvious sign of a salmon that has gone bad is the fishy smell. So, if you are at the grocery store, just put the salmon next to your nose and smell it. If you’ve just removed it from your fridge or freezer, unwrap it first before you smell it.

According to the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), salmon that has not gone bad should only have an insignificant scent and it shouldn’t smell fishy, vinegary, or like ammonia. If it has any of these smells, it has gone bad.

2. Analyze Its Eyes

Check your salmon’s eyes for a strange appearance. If the salmon still has its head-on, its eyes should be clear and shiny, with a dark pupil at the center. But if it has gone bad, its eyes will be discolored. Also, ensure that your salmon’s eyes appear slightly bulging. If they are sunken, probably it has gone bad.

3. Check Its Coating

You should know that your salmon has gone bad if its coating has a milky translucence film on top. If you notice any opaque film developing on its coating, throw it away because it has gone bad.

4. Check for Firmness and Discoloration

Another most obvious sign that salmon has gone bad is discoloration, flimsy flesh, and freezer-burned flesh. According to FDA, a fresh salmon should not have any kind of discoloration or darkening, and it should spring back when you press it gently with your finger.

Also, look out for freezer burns, ice crystals, and post-thaw mushiness. Even if you’ve set your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, but you have not sealed your salmon tightly before freezing it, water molecules will escape into the storage bag, causing the fish salmon to get freezer burns.

5. Check the Dates

Before you put the salmon in your shopping basket, check its “Best Before” and “Sell By” dates. These dates should be clearly indicated on the packaging. Although the dates are not a definite prediction of when the fish will go bad, they will give you an idea of how long it should last.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Salmon?


Eating spoiled salmon will put you at risk of food poisoning, which sometimes can be fatal. The most common type of food poisoning due to ingestion of spoiled or contaminated seafood (especially fish) is known as scombroid poisoning. It is caused by bacteria found in fish that have gone bad.

When your salmon goes bad, the bacteria in it will produce scombroid toxin, which is a mixture of histamine and histamine-like chemicals. Although cooking the stale fish will kill the bacteria, these toxins will remain on the food and are likely to be absorbed by the body when you eat the fish.

Scombroid poisoning presents serious symptoms within the first hour of ingestion of the poisonous fish.

Some of the most common symptoms of scombroid poisoning include:

• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Flushing
• Abdominal cramps
• Diarrhea
• Headache
• Itching
• Hives
• A burning sensation in the mouth
• Fever
• An unusual heart-pounding sensation

You might also experience a significant drop in your blood pressure, increased heart rate, and wheezing. These symptoms can last for about three hours, but some people may experience discomfort for several days.

Many doctors treat this condition with induced vomiting, oral charcoal, or stomach pumping to remove the poisonous food. In most cases, patients are given IV fluids to keep them hydrated, especially after excessive vomiting and diarrhea.

Nicole Middleton
Nicole calls herself a typical millennial girl and thrives on her share of social media, celebrity gossip, and all things viral content. She’s a big fan of pop music and plays the guitar as a hobby.