How to know if shrimp is spoiled

In this brief article, we will have a look at ways to tell fresh and spoiled shrimp apart. We will also explore the dangers of consuming spoiled shrimp, as well as some ways to store your shrimp for the longest possible shelf life.

How to know if shrimp is spoiled?

You will know when shrimp looks discolored or has moldy spots, it might be spoiled. Moreover, if the fish smells pungent or ammonia-like, it is no longer fit for consumption.

Shelf life of fresh shrimp

Fresh shrimp only has a shelf life of about 5 days. Fresh raw shrimp is white and slightly translucent, taking on a pinkish hue when cooked. Its scent is mild and salty, resembling that of seawater. Here are some ways to tell spoiled shrimp from fresh one.

  1. Appearance of the shell

The shell on fresh raw shrimp is firm and glossy, appearing closely attached to the body. If the shell is loose, discolored, or has spots on it, the shrimp has gone bad and should be discarded.

Moreover, if the shell has a gritty, yellowish appearance, it might be because of the use of chemicals such as sodium bisulfate to bleach the shells in an effort to mask the age of the shrimp.

Fresh shrimp has a translucent and glossy shell without any moldy spots or discoloration. 

  1. The eyes

Check the eyes if the shrimp still has the head on. Fresh shrimp will have prominent clear eyes. If the eyes are sunken or opaque, it might be spoiling.

Another way to tell is by touching the shrimp. It should be firm and smooth. If it feels slimy to the touch, it might be spoiled. 

  1. Color

The body of the shellfish itself is usually white or pinkish/peach in color and appears to be slightly translucent, turning pink or reddish when cooked. If you notice any discoloration or moldy spots, your shrimp might not be fit for consumption.

  1. Smell

Fresh raw shrimp has a mild salty scent, resembling seawater. If you detect a foul and rancid smell resembling that of ammonia, your shrimp has gone bad, because the smell is from the microbes growing on the fish.

  1. Expiration date

If you buy your shrimp packaged, the packaging will have a label on it telling you how much longer it should be edible in the form of a “best before” or “use by” date. If that date has passed, it is best to get it out.

How to store your shrimp for the longest possible shelf life

Fresh shrimp has a rather short shelf life so it is best to buy it fresh and use it as soon as possible. However, there are some ways to improve the shelf life of your shrimp. Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Refrigeration

Refrigeration can improve the shelf life of your raw shrimp, making it last up to three days in the fridge if it is left with the shell on, and two days if it has been shelled. If cooked, it can be stored in a refrigerator for up to four days before it starts to rot.

Refrigerate in a sealable container to avoid getting the aroma into another container in your fridge, and put it in the coldest spot in your fridge.

  1.  Freezing

Frozen shrimp can last up to a week if frozen properly. Make sure you use a vacuum sealed freezer bag to preserve the flavor, and to get the longest shelf life possible. Moreover, use it within 24 hours of thawing as it will go bad afterwards.

  1. Canning

When canned, shrimp can last very long, up to eight months on the shelf. You can buy canned shrimp from your local supermarket. Bear in mind that it will not be as flavorful as fresh shrimp.

Dangers of consuming spoiled shrimp

Rotten shrimp can cause serious food poisoning since these shellfish feed on larvae of roundworms. If spoiled, the bacteria in the shrimp start to break it down and release dangerous toxins which can cause nausea, headaches, diarrhea, severe vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, and bacterial infections.

Therefore, it is always advisable to buy the freshest shrimp you can find and carefully inspect it before use as well as cook it properly and at the right temperature to destroy all harmful pathogens.


Other FAQs about Shrimp  that you may be interested in.

Can you eat brine shrimp?

Can you eat freshwater shrimp?

Can you eat mantis shrimp?


In this brief article, we have had a look at ways to tell fresh and spoiled shrimp apart. We also explored the dangers of consuming spoiled shrimp, as well as some ways to store your shrimp for the longest possible shelf life.