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How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad

Salmon is one of the most flavorful types of fish on the market. It’s also super versatile, as you can make salmon pasta, salmon salads, salmon noodles, or serve buttery salmon with your favorite veggies.

It’s also rich in omega 3 and minerals, whilst being a great source of protein and potassium, so you can eat salmon dishes relatively guilt free! 

The only issue with eating salmon is ensuring that it is stored and cooked properly, or you could become unwell. So, how do you tell if your salmon has gone bad, and how long can you keep salmon for? Read on to find out! 

How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad

How Long Can You Keep Salmon In The Refrigerator?

Much like other types of seafood and fish, salmon cannot be kept for long in the refrigerator, or it could go off or go bad very quickly. A good rule of thumb is to only purchase the salmon the day you are going to keep it so that it is as fresh as possible.

However, you can keep salmon in the fridge for 1-3 days for the best results. That being said, it does depend on whether it is raw or cooked salmon, as their longevity and quality can vary. 

How Long Does Cooked Salmon Last?

According to the USDA, you are able to safely store cooked salmon in your refrigerator, and it will be fine to eat for the next three to four days. However, this is only if you store it properly, and in a sealed bag or container.

Fresh salmon should be used within 1-2 days of purchasing, but you can also check the on-pack sell by date if using store bought salmon for extra peace of mind.

In addition, smoked salmon should be used in accordance with the package use-by date, and consumed within 72 hours of opening the packet. 

You can technically keep cooked salmon for up to 5 or 6 days, but you may compromise its flavor, taste, and safety. After three or four days, your salmon may have gone bad, and you will not be able to safely consume it.

How Long Does Raw Salmon Last?

On the other hand, raw salmon does not last as long in the refrigerator, and should not be consumed after two days of storing it in the refrigerator.

For the most part, it is only recommended that you keep raw salmon in the refrigerator for 1-2 days after purchase as there is often a long seafood supply chain before the salmon even reaches the store, and it could deteriorate quickly during the process of you buying the salmon and bringing it home to place in your refrigerator. 

How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad

As a rule of thumb, you should always check fish before cooking and eating it. Seafood can go bad very quickly, which can make you very unwell if you consume it. Luckily, there are some telltale signs that your salmon has gone bad. 

The first sign of spoilage will be the smell of the salmon. Salmon that has gone bad will have a strong, ammonia like smell that is very pungent and off-putting. When a salmon is fresh and good to eat, it will smell slightly fishy, but not overly fishy or bad.

The second sign to look out for is if the fish seems slightly slimy or if it has a milky coating. This sort of translucent, slimy layer on top of the skin means that the salmon has started to go off, and it is no longer safe to consume. 

Another thing to look out for is if the eyes of a whole salmon appear milky or discolored. If the eyes are bright, with a dark pupil, then the salmon is fresh and safe to eat, but if it is gone off, then the eyes can look dull and discolored or sunken into the face. 

In addition to this, you will be able to tell if your salmon is bad if you cut into it, and the flesh appears dull or discolored. Fresh salmon should be bright pink or red, so if it is pale and dull, then it has probably spoiled. 

You can also touch the salmon to check the texture and consistency of the fish. If it seems to fall apart and break up when you touch it, then it has probably gone bad. A fresh salmon will be firm to the touch. 

Lastly, you should always check the sell by and use by dates on your fish. Most fresh salmon will still be good to eat about 1-2 days after the sell by date, but you should only eat it if you have stored it in the refrigerator properly, and if there are no signs of spoilage. 

To prevent your salmon from going bad and wasting, if you’re not going to eat it straight away, you could try freezing it. So, can you even freeze salmon safely? 


Can You Freeze Salmon?

Yes, you can freeze salmon to prolong its shelf life. If you have fresh salmon, then you can place it in a vacuum sealed bag or container, label it and then store it in your freezer for up to 3 months.

After that, it’s integrity and quality may decrease and deteriorate, so it is best if you consume it within three months after thawing the salmon and cooking it properly. 

You can freeze salmon and it should keep for around 4-6 months, but any longer than that can increase the risk of bacteria, or your salmon going bad.

This is why it is paramount that you ensure it is vacuum packed or tightly sealed to prevent any air or bacteria from growing. 

What Happens If You Eat Bad Salmon?

Eating salmon that has gone off or gone bad can be detrimental to your health. The main risk is developing food poisoning or consuming bad bacteria.

When salmon has gone bad, you can suffer from food poisoning such as salmonella and Vibrio vulnificus. 

If you do eat gone off salmon, then these kinds of bacteria can cause abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. You can also suffer from muscle aches, and numbness of the skin as a result of eating bad salmon. 


To conclude, salmon can be a delicious source of protein and makes for a very healthy meal. You just have to be careful and ensure that you keep it fresh and don’t let it go bad before you eat it.

Luckily, with this guide, you should be able to identify all of the telltale signs that your salmon has spoiled, and you will know how to store it to maintain its freshness and longevity. 

Jess Smith

Falowniki Fotowoltaiczne

Saturday 15th of June 2024

I'm impressed by the breadth and depth of your knowledge. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive post.

Carporty Fotowoltaiczne

Saturday 15th of June 2024

Your ability to present complex information in an easy-to-grasp manner is commendable.


Monday 19th of September 2022

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Monday 19th of September 2022

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