The Blue Stove


How to Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad: 4 Signals You Should Know

Are you ever unsure if the wild-caught salmon thats been sitting in your fridge for a few days is still safe to eat? Knowing how to tell if salmon has gone bad can help save time and money and ensure that the fish you prepare for dinner is safe and delicious.

Fortunately, by paying close attention to a few key indicators, anyone with basic kitchen skills - from rookie home cooks to professional chefs - can easily detect spoilage and know when is salmon bad in this popular seafood choice.

Prevention better than cure, so before baking it at 375 or other temps as you wish, we need to know the signs of how to tell if salmon has gone bad.

Can Cooking The Bad Salmons Kill All Bacteria?

how to tell if salmon has gone bad

Before getting to when is salmon bad, lets check out whether hot temperatures/heat can kill all the bacteria in bad salmons or not.

Though it is understandable to think that cooking your bad salmon would make it safe to consume, this isnt the case. Heat can kill food-borne bacteria, but many of these pathogens generate toxins and poisonous substances as well. These are not destroyed during the cooking process, putting you at risk for food poisoning if consumed.

Keep on reading for how to tell if salmon has gone bad part coming up next.

How to Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad?

#1 Expiration Dates

how to tell if salmon has gone bad

How to tell if salmon has gone bad?

This is the first thing we need to keep in mind when it comes to how to tell if salmon has gone bad

When you purchase packaged salmon, it should be stamped with a sell-by date; this is your indication for when the fish will expire. However, if you buy from the butcher counter, there wont be any sort of labeling indicating an expiration date.

In that case, follow USDA guidelines of when is salmon bad: Raw salmon can remain in your refrigerator up to two days and leftovers must typically be consumed within three to four days after cooking.

NOTE: Sell-by vs. Use-by date

We often think that the date on salmon packaging supplies an exact representation of its freshness. However, dont be so quick to judge - a closer examination is needed before you discard perfectly edible fish! Is it a sell-by or use-by date?

Dont let those inaccurate dates lead you astray; take a moment to investigate further and ensure your meal isnt wasted.

A use-by date marks the point of peak freshness and minimal risk of food poisoning when it comes to raw salmon. Thankfully, a sell-by date grants us an extra bit of leeway; we can usually keep our fish in its refrigerated state for up to two days after purchase!

So you can take your time enjoying that delicious piece of seafood without having to worry about whether or not its still safe.

#2 Appearance

how to tell if salmon has gone bad

How to tell if salmon has gone bad?

Make sure to only buy bright pink or rosy-orange salmon, as grayish fish is not safe to eat. Furthermore, it doesnt really matter if your salmon has been cooked and stored; when left out at room temperature for extended periods of time, the risk of spoilage still remains. Therefore, always remember that if your leftover salmon looks pale or discolored in any way, dispose of it immediately!

Furthermore, by examining the salmon, you can determine if it has gone bad. If the skin is grey and opaque, then discard your purchase. Additionally, milky residue or dark spots indicate that the salmon is spoiled; similarly, any form of mold would mean that the fish should be thrown out immediately in order to avoid potential health risks.

#3 Texture

When purchasing salmon, use your finger as a gauge to know how to tell if salmon has gone bad. If it springs back up when you press down on the flesh, then enjoy! However, if dimples remain after pressing with your fingers and the fish looks sunken in appearance, or it is falling apart to the touch or slimy, then discard it immediately - just like caring for our own bodies!

#4 Smell

how to tell if salmon has gone bad

How to tell if salmon has gone bad?

To determine if salmon is fresh, take a whiff. A mild scent should come from the fish, but any strong or overbearing odors are signs of spoilage. Additionally, dont be deceived by frozen salmon as an unpleasant odor can still indicate that it has gone bad - so always do a smell test!

If you find yourself crinkling your nose at its aroma then its best to opt for another option; after all, no one wants funky-faced food anyway!

How Long Does Salmon Last?

Salmon is a delicate fish, with a shorter shelf life than most other varieties. Therefore, its best to plan ahead and cook your salmon either the same day as you purchased it or the following day for optimal taste and freshness!

To ensure the freshness and longevity of cooked salmon, store it properly inside your refrigerator. The shelf life is a maximum of two days; however, if you opt for smoked or cooked varieties they can last up to 3-4 days in total.

To extend its lifespan even further, consider freezing your salmon - this will help keep it at its best quality!

If stored correctly in an air-tight container or freezer bag, frozen salmon can retain its high quality for a period of 2 to 3 months.

You can take a look at this chart to know how long can cooked salmons last, or even raw and smoked one.

how to tell if salmon has gone bad

How to tell if salmon has gone bad? Cre: HomeCookBasics.

What Happens If I Serve and Eat Spoiled Salmon?

Lastly, this is the most important thing we would love you to pay attention besides how to tell if salmon has gone bad.

Conversely, salmon with visible signs of spoilage such as mold or a rancid odor is likely to make people ill. It contains numerous bacteria that can induce food-borne symptoms like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and fever. Stomach pain may also arise in some cases.

Or even worse, you can suffer two types of food poisoning: ciguatera poisoning and scombroid poisoning.

  • Signs of ciguatera poisoning: Abdominal upset, muscle soreness, headache, itching sensations, lack of sensation in some areas, temperature changes or even a metallic flavor on the tongue.
  • Signs of scombroid poisoning: Abdominal agony, flushing of the face and welts on the skin.

Way to Store Salmon

If you want your salmon to stay fresh, it is essential that you comply with the fundamental principles of food safety. Salmon requires extra care as it can quickly spoil if not stored correctly.

Avoid leaving salmon in the temperature range that can lead to food poisoning - otherwise known as the danger zone - which is between 40°F and 140°F (4.4°C to 60°C). Bacteria have a tendency to multiply rapidly within this temperature fluctuation, creating an unsafe environment for consuming potential meals.

You can keep raw salmon in the fridge for 1-2 days from when you bought it, and cooked salmon should be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

However, if left at room temperature, only 2 hours is advised as a maximum - anything beyond this period requires refrigeration or disposal. For longer term storage purposes, freezing your salmon will preserve its freshness and quality over several months!


When it comes to how to tell if salmon has gone bad, the best tip is to trust the signs and also your senses. As with any food, always take a few moments to inspect and smell your seafood before consuming or serving it - in doing so, youll ensure a delicious meal and peace of mind! And remember: safety first! If something looks off and some signs of when is salmon bad pop up, its best not to take a chance and throw it away immediately.

Our team The Blue Stove wish you the best of luck when it comes to how to tell if salmon has gone bad - may your days be filled with delicious seafood meals! Happy cooking!

FAQs of How to Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad

Can I eat expired salmon?

The sell-by date on the box may lapse during the storage period of one to two days after purchase, but if the salmon has been properly stored, it will still be safe to use after that date.

Is salmon gone bad after 5 days?

After you cook fresh fish, store the leftovers for up to four days. If your cooked salmon wont last that long, make sure to place it in a freezer-safe bag and freeze it as soon as possible; uncooked salmon should be used within three months while cooked can be kept in the freezer for six months or less. This is how youll ensure top quality results with each meal!

Is it OK if salmons smell a little?

The surefire way to tell if salmon has gone bad? Its smell! Fresh, good-quality fish should be relatively odorless; conversely, when you detect a potent fishy aroma, thats a sign your seafood is past its prime. When it comes to shopping for the best catch of the day - let your nose be your guide.

What is the smell of spoiled salmon like?

If your salmon emits a sour, pungent aroma similar to ammonia or fishiness, its best not to chance it. Salmon that smells bad before cooking will only get stronger when cooked; thus the potential of having seafood poisoning is high - so experts advise tossing out any uncertain seafood immediately.

What does expire salmon look like?

It will appear extremely awful. We know that something has probably expired if it appears old and gray. It ultimately doesnt look good. Pale and gray in hue are the first indicators that salmon has gone bad.

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