How to know if Salmon is spoiled

In this article, we’ll explain how to tell if your salmon is going bad. We will also discuss the health consequences of eating spoiled salmon and how to extend salmon’s shelf life so you can store it and keep it fresh for longer, all at your home.

How to know if Salmon is spoiled?

To determine if your salmon is spoiled, you can check the following indicators:

  1. Smell: Fresh salmon has a mild, appetizing scent, while spoiled salmon has a pungent, ammonia-like smell. If the salmon emits an unpleasant odor, it is spoiled and should not be consumed.
  1. Color: Fresh salmon has a bright pink or orange color. If the color has dulled, become gray, or developed dark spots, it is no longer fresh. Additionally, fine white lines running through the fish indicate freshness.
  1. Texture: Check the texture of the salmon. If it has a milky film or any opaque or translucent coating, it has likely gone bad. Fresh salmon should always be firm and hold together. If it feels weak, mushy, or breaks apart easily, it should be discarded.
  1. Eyes: If the salmon still has its head on, examine the eyes. Fresh salmon will have bright, clear eyes with a dark pupil, while spoiled salmon will have hazy, discolored eyes. The eyes should also be firm and slightly bulging. Sunken or cloudy eyes are signs of spoilage.
  1. Packaging: Check for the “best before” or “use by” date on the packaging, as it can be a reliable indicator of the salmon’s shelf life. If the salmon is past the indicated date, it may be spoiled.
  1. Taste and Flavor: If you are dealing with leftovers or takeout, taste is another way to assess the salmon’s edibility. If it has an off-putting taste, it is best to discard it.
  1. Time left out: Salmon can spoil rapidly when left at room temperature. If the salmon has been left out for more than an hour, it should be discarded.

By paying attention to these indicators, you can determine whether  your salmon has gone bad and make an informed decision about its consumption.

Can you get sick from eating spoiled Salmon?

Yes, eating spoiled salmon can pose several health risks due to the presence of harmful pathogens (1-8). 

Here we summarize some potential symptoms that you may experience after consuming spoiled salmon contaminated with specific pathogens:

  • Salmonella: Salmonella is a common bacteria found in undercooked or spoiled seafood, including salmon (1-2). 

Symptoms of salmonella infection, known as salmonellosis, include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting (3). In severe cases, it can lead to dehydration and require medical treatment.

  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus: This bacteria can contaminate raw or undercooked seafood, including salmon (4). Consumption of spoiled salmon contaminated with V. parahaemolyticus may lead to symptoms such as watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
  • Listeria monocytogenes: Listeria is a bacterium that can be present in contaminated seafood, including salmon. Ingesting spoiled salmon contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause a severe infection known as listeriosis (1). 

Symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, headache, nausea, and diarrhea. In pregnant women, it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe illness in newborns (5).

  • Anisakis: Anisakis is a parasitic worm that can be found in certain species of fish, including salmon (6). 

If someone consumes spoiled salmon with live Anisakis larvae, it can cause an allergic reaction known as anisakiasis. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and allergic reactions such as itching or hives (7-8).

You should notice that these are just a few examples, and there could be other pathogens or contaminants that may cause different symptoms. So, you should never eat spoiled Salmon and it is recommended to always check for the above-mentioned signs of spoilage before consumption.

What should you do if you suspect you have eaten spoiled Salmon?

If you have eaten spoiled salmon and suspect it has caused problems, closely monitor your symptoms and their severity. 

You should seek medical advice if symptoms are severe, persistent, or worsen. When consulting a healthcare professional, provide details about the spoiled salmon, including appearance, smell, and purchase information.

It is highly recommended to stay hydrated if you experience diarrhea or vomiting, avoid further consumption of the spoiled salmon, practice good hygiene, and always wash your hands thoroughly. 

Remember that taking your symptoms seriously and seeking medical help is very important to avoid severe health problems.

How to store Salmon for the best shelf life?

To store salmon for the best shelf life, you can follow these guidelines:

  1. Refrigeration: Raw salmon can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Make sure to promptly refrigerate it after purchase and avoid leaving it at room temperature for too long. 

For leftovers, it is recommended to consume them within a day and store them in the refrigerator.

  1. Freezing: Freezing salmon can significantly extend its shelf life, up to 2 months or even longer. Prior to freezing, it is important to reduce moisture to prevent freezer burn and maintain quality. 

You should place the salmon in a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible (vacuum sealing is ideal), and transfer it to a resealable container. Store the container in the freezer, away from other foods.

  1. Optional salting: Salting the fish before freezing can further decrease moisture content and minimize the risk of microbial growth and spoilage (9). 

This can be done by applying salt to the fish, allowing it to absorb moisture for a short period, and then rinsing off the excess salt before freezing.

By following these storage methods, you can maximize the shelf life of your salmon and maintain its quality for an extended period. Remember to label the packaging with the date of freezing for easy reference and prioritize using the oldest frozen salmon first.


In this article, we have explained the method to tell if your salmon is going bad. We will also discuss the health consequences of eating spoiled salmon and how to extend salmon’s shelf life so you can store it and keep it fresh for longer, all at your home.


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