How Long Does Fish Last In The Fridge?

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It is no secret that fish is one of the most nutritious foods a person can consume, containing vast amounts of protein, healthy fats, and Omega-3.

However, if you eat fish that has passed its expiry date, you will not receive any of the nutritional benefits. In fact, you will likely become very ill.

In this article, we will look at how long fish typically lasts in the fridge, and what you can do to make sure you are always eating fresh, safe-to-eat seafood.

The Shelf Life Of Chilled Fish In The Refrigerator

Fish should either be refrigerated or frozen, depending on how it has been packaged. Either way, the fish needs to be chilled until it is about to be eaten.

The most important thing to check before storing fish away in a chilled area is to know, exactly, how long its shelf life is. You can check the packaging if the fish is store-bought, but what about if you have caught one yourself? Here are the shelf lives of each stage of fish, from raw to cooked.

The Shelf Life Of Raw Fish

As a rule, raw fish can be kept in the refrigerator for around two days after it has passed its expiry date. It is recommended that you do not eat the fish after these two days, but throw it away instead. Some fish, on the other hand, may keep for more than two days.

Since there are few surfaces that could have been contaminated during the filleting process, a whole fish will usually last a day or two longer.

The Shelf Life Of Cooked Fish

Providing that the fish is kept in the refrigerator after it has been cooked, it can be preserved for up to six days after the best-before period has passed.

After the fish has been cooked, it is critical not to leave it at room temperature for too long. Bacteria and fungi will have enough time to grow if the meal has been left at room temperature for more than two hours, rendering it unsafe for consumption at a later date.

The Shelf Life Of Thawing Fish

You may want to freeze your fish to keep it fresh for longer. The defrosting process will begin as soon as the fish leaves the frozen area.

Once the fish has begun to defrost, both outside and inside the refrigerator, the cooling process begins. Therefore, a fish that has been frozen for two days after its best-before date should be consumed the very same day it is thawed.

Safely Storing Fish In The Refrigerator

Now that you are familiar with the shelf life of a fish, here is how you can safely store it in your refrigerator.

How To Safely Store Raw Fish

The most effective way to keep raw fish fresh is to, first, gently rinse it in cold water. After patting it dry, store it in an airtight bag and seal it tightly, removing all excess air.

To keep the fish fresh, place the sealed bag back into a container filled with ice water and store in the refrigerator. This should keep the fish fresh for a long period without causing it to lose its consistency or taste.

How To Safely Store Cooked Fish

If you want to keep cooked fish fresh for up to four days, make sure it has completely cooled before putting it in the refrigerator. This ensures that no toxic or potentially harmful germs have formed on the food.

Additionally, you should place the cooked fish inside an airtight container, just like you would if it was raw. However, you do not need to place it in a container filled with ice water.

How To Safely Store Thawing Fish

Fish should be thawed in the refrigerator in their original packaging after being removed from the freezer. The fish will then defrost slowly and should preserve its quality taste and texture.

We recommend that you open any vacuum-packed meals before thawing them, including fish. This is due to the hypoxic nature of vacuum-packed goods, which provides an ideal habitat for anaerobic bacteria to develop.

Defrosting food maintained in airtight containers might promote the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which can lead to botulism sickness.

How To Tell If Fish Has Gone Off

Unlike other foods, most types of seafood give off a distinct smell that can make it difficult to tell if it has passed its expiry date or not. Follow this guide to check if your fish has gone off, or if it is safe to store for another day.

The Smell Test

This can be a tricky rule to follow, as most fish have a distinct, strong odor regardless of whether it is safe to eat or not.

However, an expired fish will begin to smell worse and worse as time passes, eventually becoming the smell of rotting meat. This scent will undeniably let you know that the fish is well past its safe-to-eat period.

Thick And Slimy Coating

The outside of the fish will become soggy as it decomposes, and eventually, a thin coating of a slimy substance will appear. The fish should be thrown away as soon as the slime accumulates. It’s vital to keep in mind that this rule only applies to raw fish, so don’t mistake this observation for cooked fish.

White And Milky Coating

Raw fish has a translucent layer on it, and the color of the flesh changes as the fish decomposes. The film will turn a pale, hazy color, which will become more noticeable the longer it is left. You should not consume the fish if you notice this happening.

It’s also worth noting that the milky white membrane can turn gray or pale blue, which should also be avoided. Again, this restriction should only be applied to raw fish, as cooked fish does not develop this coating.

The Best-Before Date

Lastly, as we briefly mentioned earlier, the most important thing you can do is pay attention to the expiration date on the packaging of a store-bought fish. You may go over two days, but as soon as this time period has passed, the fish should be discarded immediately.


So, there we have it: that is how you can tell if your fish is safe to eat, and how to keep it safe until you would like to consume it. Be sure to follow our advice to keep yourself well and healthy.

Additional note: it is very important to make sure that fish is always thoroughly cooked before eating unless the packaging states otherwise. We hope you found this article helpful.

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