How Long Can Raw Fish Stay In The Fridge?

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Raw fish is a delicate ingredient that requires proper handling and storage to ensure its freshness and quality. Whether you’re a skilled chef or only an occasional home cook, it’s important to know how long raw fish can stay in the fridge without spoiling.

In this article, we’ll provide you with essential information on storing raw fish properly for optimal use and safety. You’ll learn about the different types of fish and their shelf life, as well as how to extend their freshness by freezing them. We’ll also guide you through best practices for handling and cooking raw fish safely, reducing food waste, and preventing cross-contamination.

“The key to enjoying fresh and delicious seafood dishes lies in knowing how to store and handle your ingredients correctly.” -Unknown

So, whether you’ve just bought some fresh salmon from the market or are planning to cook up some sushi-grade tuna at home, read on to discover everything you need to know about “How Long Can Raw Fish Stay In The Fridge?” and more!

Understanding the Importance of Proper Storage

Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the quality and safety of raw fish. Improper storage can lead to spoilage, bacterial growth, and foodborne illness. To ensure that your raw fish remains fresh and safe to eat, it is essential to understand how long it can stay in the fridge and best practices for its storage.

Why Proper Storage is Crucial for Raw Fish

Raw fish is highly perishable because it contains a high level of protein and moisture, which are ideal conditions for bacteria growth. When raw fish is not properly stored, bacteria can quickly multiply and cause spoilage, leading to unpleasant odors, slimy texture, and discoloration. In addition, consuming spoiled or contaminated fish can cause food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

Apart from the health risks, improper storage can also affect the taste and texture of fresh fish. The exposure to air and temperature changes can cause oxidation and deterioration of the lipids, resulting in rancid flavor and tough texture.

The Consequences of Improper Storage

Improper storage of raw fish can have serious consequences on both your health and wallet. If you consume contaminated fish, you may suffer from severe food poisoning symptoms that require medical attention. The cost of doctor’s visits, medications, and missed work can be significant.

In terms of financial loss, throwing away spoiled fish or seafood due to improper storage can be costly. Fresh fish is expensive, and wasting it due to poor storage can add up over time. Additionally, if you operate a restaurant or food business, serving spoiled fish can result in customer complaints, negative reviews, and potential legal actions.

Best Practices for Raw Fish Storage

The following are some best practices for raw fish storage to ensure its safety and quality:

  • Place the fish immediately in the fridge or freezer after purchasing or catching it. Freshness starts to decline rapidly at room temperature.
  • Store raw fish in an airtight container or wrap tightly with plastic wrap or foil to prevent air exposure and contact with other foods.
  • Set the fridge temperature between 32 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit to slow down bacterial growth but prevent freezing the fish, which affects the texture and flavor.
  • If storing for more than two days, freeze the fish to prolong freshness. Thaw the frozen fish overnight in the fridge before cooking or consuming it.
  • Keep the fish in the coldest part of the fridge, such as the back bottom shelf, away from warm spots like the door or top shelves.
  • Don’t wash raw fish before storing it as water can promote bacterial growth. Instead, rinse it under cold water just before cooking.

It is also essential to follow proper hygiene practices when handling raw fish. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after touching it. Use separate cutting boards, knives, and utensils for raw fish to avoid cross-contamination.

“Fresh seafood should smell like the ocean, not like fish.” -Chef Barton Seaver

Knowing how long raw fish can stay in the fridge and following best practices for its storage can help you enjoy fresh and safe seafood every time. With proper storage and handling techniques, you can minimize the risk of foodborne illness, reduce waste, and maintain the taste and texture of your favorite fish dishes.

The Different Types of Raw Fish and Their Storage Times

Raw fish is a delicacy that many people enjoy, especially those who love sushi and sashimi. However, storing raw fish can be tricky as it needs to remain fresh in order to avoid any bacterial contamination or spoilage. In this article, we’ll look at the various types of raw fish and their respective storage times.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are high in oils and have a rich flavor which makes them popular for sushi and sashimi dishes. Examples of fatty fish include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and yellowtail. When storing fatty fish in the fridge, it’s recommended to consume it within 24-48 hours after purchasing. This is because the fat content makes these types of fish more prone to bacteria growth compared to lean fish. If you’re planning on keeping fatty fish longer, consider freezing it instead to extend its shelf life.

“Raw salmon lasts about one to two days if refrigerated properly.” – US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Lean Fish

Lean fish, on the other hand, have lower oil content and tend to have a mild taste. Examples of lean fish include halibut, sea bass, snapper, and cod. These types of fish generally last longer than fatty fish when stored in the fridge. You can expect lean fish to last around 3-4 days before consuming it. Again, if you plan on keeping it longer, consider freezing it.

“Keep freshly caught fish in the refrigerator for no more than two days.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Shellfish such as shrimp, crab, lobster, and clams are often boiled or steamed before consumption. If you have raw shellfish, it’s important to store them properly in the fridge to avoid bacterial growth. When storing shellfish, place a layer of ice on top of them to keep them fresh and increase their shelf life. Raw shellfish can last between 2-3 days in the fridge.

“Always cover the bottom of the refrigerator with paper towels and place seafood on top.” – The New York Times


Cephalopods are sea creatures that include squid, octopus, and cuttlefish. These types of seafood have a unique flavor and texture which makes them popular for many dishes. Raw cephalopods should be consumed within 1-2 days after purchase if stored in the fridge. If you plan on keeping them longer, consider freezing them instead.

“Fresh octopus will only last up to two days in the refrigerator.” – Bon Appétit

When storing raw fish, it’s crucial to consider the type of fish as storage times vary depending on whether it’s fatty or lean, shellfish, or cephalopods. Properly storing your raw fish is essential to avoid any health risks associated with consuming spoiled seafood. Remember to keep your fridge clean, use proper storage containers, and consume your raw fish within the recommended time frame.

Signs of Spoiled Raw Fish: What to Look For

Raw fish is a popular ingredient in many recipes, from sushi to ceviche. But how do you know when your raw fish has gone bad? It’s important to recognize the signs of spoilage so that you can avoid eating contaminated fish and getting sick. Here are some key things to look for:

Visual Clues of Spoilage

One of the most obvious ways to tell if your raw fish has spoiled is by looking at it. Fresh fish should be shiny and firm, with bright eyes and gills that are deep red or pink. As fish begins to spoil, its appearance will change.

You may notice that the skin becomes slimy or dull, and the flesh turns a grayish color. Additionally, any discoloration or dark spots on the fish could indicate spoilage. This is especially true if the spots are accompanied by a foul odor.

Odor Changes

The smell of raw fish can also give away whether it has spoiled or not. While fresh fish has a mild, oceanic scent, spoiled fish will have a strong, pungent odor that smells distinctly “fishy.” If the fish smells sour, like ammonia, this is a sure sign of spoilage.

Sometimes, the fish may not have an overly unpleasant odor but will instead smell slightly sweet. This can happen when certain types of bacteria begin to grow on the fish, causing it to break down and release organic compounds. Even if the sweetness isn’t immediately off-putting, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw out any fish that smells even slightly unusual.

Texture Changes

In addition to visual and olfactory cues, the texture of raw fish can also be a good indicator of spoilage. Fresh fish should feel firm and slightly springy to the touch, with flesh that holds together well.

As it starts to go bad, however, the texture will change. Spoiled fish may feel mushy or slimy, and the flesh may separate more easily when prodded with your finger. It’s worth noting that some types of fish have naturally softer textures than others, so this method may not always work for every variety of fish.

Color Changes

Another way to tell if raw fish has spoiled is by observing any changes in color. As mentioned earlier, discoloration on the skin or flesh could indicate spoilage.

You may also notice that the flesh becomes translucent or cloudy instead of clear, especially around the edges of the fish. This happens because bacteria are starting to break down the tissue and release fluids within the fish.

“If you purchase fresh fish and store it properly, it can last up to two days in the refrigerator,” says Chrissy Arsenault, MPH, RD, registered dietitian and founder of Plant-Based Juniors. “But make sure to use it as soon as possible.”

In general, it’s best to consume raw fish immediately after purchasing it to ensure that it’s fresh and safe to eat. If you need to store raw fish in the fridge, make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic or foil before placing it in the coldest part of the fridge.

If you’re still unsure about whether your raw fish is fresh or has gone bad, trust your instincts. If something seems off, it’s better to err on the side of caution and throw out the fish rather than risk getting sick from eating contaminated food.

Tips for Extending the Shelf Life of Raw Fish

Keep Fish Refrigerated

One of the most crucial factors in extending the shelf life of raw fish is proper refrigeration. When storing fresh fish, it is important to keep your refrigerator at a temperature between 32°F and 38°F to prevent bacteria growth.

To ensure that your fish stays fresh as long as possible, store it in the coldest part of your fridge, which is usually the back or bottom. Keeping it away from heat sources, such as windows, ovens, or stovetops, can also help maintain its freshness.

If you’re not planning on using the fish within two days, consider freezing it instead. Freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of raw fish even further. However, bear in mind that frozen fish will likely lose some quality and texture, so aim to use it within six months.

Use Proper Packaging Techniques

The right packaging technique plays an essential role in preserving the freshness of raw fish. When buying fish from a grocery store, make sure it’s packed well and has no holes that could allow air to escape. If you buy fish whole, ask the seller to clean and remove the intestines before packing it up for you.

You can also wrap the fish in plastic wrap or aluminum foil once you get home. This will reduce moisture loss while preventing any odors from other foods in your fridge from seeping into the fish.

Another popular method uses wax paper since it allows the fish’s skin to breathe while keeping out unwanted odors. Simply wrap the fish tightly with wax paper, then place it gently in your fridge.

Use Airtight Containers

Airtight containers are a great way to store raw fish since they prevent air from getting in and coming into contact with the fish. It’s essential to pick the right size container that can hold your fish without leaving any extra space.

Leftover large spaces inside the container will cause air pockets, which may speed up spoilage. Stackable plastic containers or glass jars with good sealing lids also work well when storing fresh fish.

You can also add moisture-absorbing materials such as paper towels or silica gel packets to keep the environment dry, which prevents bacteria growth. But be sure not to place them directly on top of the fish as it could cause the surface to dehydrate and deteriorate quickly.

“A family favorite is salmon, which contains high levels of omega-3s,” says Ellie Krieger, R.D., host of “Ellie’s Real Good Food” on public television. “If you have wild salmon at home, for example, you want to eat it within two days,” she recommends.

Proper refrigeration, packaging, and storage all play vital roles in extending the shelf life of raw fish. Keep these tips in mind next time you buy fresh fish and don’t let its delicious flavor go to waste!

How to Properly Freeze Raw Fish for Long-Term Storage

Preparing Fish for Freezing

If you want to keep your raw fish fresh as long as possible, the key is to freeze it while it’s still at its best. Here are some steps on how to prepare fish for freezing:

  • Clean and debone the fish before freezing.
  • Rinse the fish thoroughly in cold water removing any remaining scales or dirt that may be present. You can also try soaking the fish in brine solution of 1 tablespoon of salt per 4 cups (1 liter) of water for a few minutes to remove additional debris.
  • Pat dry with paper towels or a clean cloth to remove excess moisture.
  • Wrap the fish tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. The idea is to create an air-tight seal around the fish so that no air can enter which causes freezer burn.
  • Label the package with the type of fish, date of packaging and place it in a ziplock bag with all the air removed or vacuum-sealed.

Best Practices for Freezing Fish

Freezing fish correctly will preserve freshness and extend its shelf-life without damaging the quality of the flesh. Follow these tips to ensure successful longer-term storage of your raw fish:

  • Use thick bags or containers specifically designed for use in the freezer. Plastic zipper bags work well since they do not split easily.
  • Leave enough space for the expansion of the fish when frozen by packing fillets separately from each other.
  • Avoid stacking multiple packets too closely together in order to allow for proper air flow within the freezer. Stack them neatly on top of each other, or arrange in a single layer with some space between to avoid crushing and keep track of inventory.
  • Place fish packages towards the back of the freezer where they will maintain their temperature best, above any unit vent. Avoid placement near door hinges or any other hot spots.
  • Freeze fish as soon as possible after purchase as freshness can deteriorate quickly. Don’t keep it warm for too long before storing – get it into the freezer right away.

In general, raw fish that has been frozen and stored properly in an airtight container or bag can last up to 6 months in the freezer without sacrificing its quality. This is why it’s essential to follow these steps when preparing and packaging your fish for storage.

“The longer you freeze a product the more liable it is to freezer burn,” says Eric Knight, president of Quality Seafood Distributors in Los Angeles. “If you’re going to use something within three weeks, just put it in the fridge.”

It’s important to note that while freezing keeps food safe indefinitely, it doesn’t always preserve nutritional value and quality. For this reason, it’s recommended to consume thawed seafood products within six months if possible.

By following the correct procedures for preparing and freezing your raw fish, you can extend its shelf life and ensure that it remains fresh even after several months in the freezer. This way, you’ll always have access to delicious, high-quality seafood no matter what time of year it is.

The Risks of Consuming Spoiled Raw Fish

Raw fish can be a healthy addition to your diet, but it is important to properly store and handle it. One common question people have regarding raw fish is how long it can stay in the fridge before it spoils. The answer depends on several factors such as the type of fish, its freshness when purchased, and the temperature of the refrigerator.

Food Poisoning and Other Health Risks

If raw fish is not stored properly, harmful bacteria can grow, which can cause food poisoning. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to dehydration and hospitalization. Certain groups of people, such as pregnant women, young children, and those with weakened immune systems, are at higher risk for food poisoning.

In addition to food poisoning, consuming spoiled raw fish can also result in other health risks. For example, eating fish that has gone bad may cause histamine poisoning, which can cause symptoms like sweating, headache, and tingling or burning sensations in the mouth and throat. This occurs because certain species of fish naturally produce histamine as they begin to spoil.

To minimize these health risks, it’s important to consume only fresh fish and ensure it is properly refrigerated. If you’re unsure about the freshness of the fish, err on the side of caution and discard it.

Long-Term Health Effects of Consuming Spoiled Fish

Consuming spoiled fish over time can also have more severe long-term health effects. For example, studies have shown that long-term consumption of toxins found in some types of marine life, such as shellfish, can increase the risk of liver cancer and neurotoxicity. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to only consume fish and other seafood from reputable sources.

Proper storage is also important in preventing the growth of bacteria that can lead to long-term health effects. It’s recommended that raw fish be stored in a refrigerator set at or below 40°F and consumed within two days of purchase, although some types of fish may spoil more quickly than others. If you plan on eating leftover cooked fish, it should be eaten within three to four days of cooking.

“Consuming spoiled fish, whether raw or cooked, can have serious consequences for your health,” warns Dr. Heather Finley, a family medicine physician in San Francisco. “By properly handling and storing raw fish, you can minimize these risks and enjoy its many nutritional benefits.”

The key to safely consuming raw or leftover fish is proper storage and common sense. By following guidelines for refrigeration and use-by dates, you can ensure that you are not putting your health at risk by consuming spoiled fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can raw fish stay in the fridge before it goes bad?

Raw fish can stay in the fridge for up to two days before it goes bad. It is important to store it properly and keep it at a temperature below 40°F to prevent bacterial growth. If you are not planning to use the raw fish within two days, it is best to freeze it instead.

What are the signs that raw fish has gone bad in the fridge?

The signs that raw fish has gone bad in the fridge include a strong, foul odor, slimy texture, and discoloration. If you notice any of these signs, do not consume the fish. It is important to check the fish before cooking it to avoid any potential health risks.

Is it safe to consume raw fish that has been in the fridge for a week?

No, it is not safe to consume raw fish that has been in the fridge for a week. Raw fish can only stay in the fridge for up to two days before it goes bad. Consuming raw fish that has gone bad can lead to food poisoning, which can cause serious health problems.

What is the best way to store raw fish in the fridge to make it last longer?

The best way to store raw fish in the fridge is to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in a shallow dish. Keep the dish on the bottom shelf of the fridge to prevent any juices from leaking onto other foods. Make sure the temperature is below 40°F and use the fish within two days for best results.

Can raw fish be frozen to extend its shelf life?

Yes, raw fish can be frozen to extend its shelf life. Wrap the fish tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in an airtight freezer bag. Label the bag with the date and type of fish and store it in the freezer for up to six months. Thaw the fish in the fridge before cooking it.

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