How Long Does Tuna Fish Last In The Fridge? Learn the Shelf Life of Tuna!

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Are you wondering whether that tuna in your fridge is still safe to eat? It’s important to know how long seafood can last in the fridge before it goes bad and becomes a potential health risk. Tuna, being a popular fish choice for many households, requires some basic knowledge about its shelf life.

In this article, we will discuss how long tuna fish lasts in the fridge, why it expires, and the proper storage techniques needed to ensure its optimal freshness. Knowing the answers to these questions can be helpful not only in avoiding foodborne illness but also in cutting down on waste and saving money on groceries.

“Tuna is packed with flavor and nutrients, but like any other perishable item, it has a limited shelf life.”

We’ll also touch on some signs to look out for that indicate when tuna fish has gone bad. This information equips you with the tools to make informed decisions about eating tuna or discarding it. By following the guidelines outlined here, you’ll have the confidence to enjoy fresh tuna safely and deliciously!

Factors That Affect Tuna’s Shelf Life

Tuna is a popular seafood item that can be prepared in various ways, such as sushi, sandwiches, and casseroles. But how long does tuna fish last in the fridge? The answer to this question depends on several factors that affect the quality and safety of tuna. In this article, we will discuss three key factors that determine the shelf life of tuna.


The temperature at which you store your tuna plays a significant role in how long it stays fresh. Like all perishable foods, tuna should always be kept cold to prevent bacterial growth. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw tuna should be stored at or below 40°F (4°C) and should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. At temperatures above 40°F, bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing spoilage and possible foodborne illness.

If you’re wondering whether cooked tuna has a longer shelf life than raw tuna, the answer is yes. Cooked tuna should be stored at a colder temperature of 35°F (1.6°C) and can last for up to four days in the refrigerator. However, if you plan on keeping cooked tuna for longer, it’s best to freeze it.

Freshness at Purchase

The freshness of tuna at the time of purchase also affects its shelf life. If you buy tuna that’s already past its prime, it won’t last very long even in ideal storage conditions. When buying tuna, look for firm flesh, a bright color, and a clean smell. If the flesh is soft, discolored, or smells bad, don’t take a chance by purchasing it, as it may already be spoiled. It’s recommended to buy only what you can eat within a day or two so that it doesn’t sit in your fridge for an extended period.

Also, be aware of the type of tuna you’re buying. Albacore and yellowfin tuna have a shorter shelf life than skipjack and bluefin tunas due to their higher oil content. The oil in these fish can quickly become rancid, leading to spoilage and an unpleasant taste and smell.


The packaging method used to store tuna can also affect its shelf life. If tuna is not packaged properly, oxygen can get in, causing oxidation and bacterial growth. It’s best to buy tuna that’s already vacuum-sealed, as this reduces exposure to air and prevents spoilage. Tuna that’s sold loose or in an open container should only be purchased if you plan on using it immediately.

If you’ve already opened a package of tuna, ensure to reseal it tightly before returning it to the fridge. You can do this by wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap or putting it in a sealable storage bag. Also, try to use any leftover tuna within two days, as prolonged storage increases the risk of spoilage.

“Keeping tuna refrigerated while limiting its exposure to air helps maintain freshness.” -USDA

There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to how long tuna fish lasts in the fridge. Instead, several factors affect its shelf life, including temperature, freshness at purchase, and packaging. To ensure optimal quality and safety, always keep raw or cooked tuna cold, look for fresh fish, and choose vacuum-sealed packages whenever possible.

How to Store Tuna Fish in the Fridge to Maximize Its Shelf Life

Use Airtight Containers

If you want to maximize the shelf life of your tuna fish, one of the most important things to do is store it in airtight containers. An airtight container prevents air from getting in and out of the container. By doing this, it helps prevent spoilage of the food by stopping bacteria growth that occurs when meat has prolonged exposure to air. Exposure to air can lead to freezer burn or even make the tuna fish go bad quicker than intended.

An excellent type of airtight container that works well for storing tuna fish are vacuum-sealed bags. They get rid of excess oxygen and ensure your tuna does not come into contact with air, keeping it fresh for longer periods. Just fill up the bag according to your liking, seal it, and remove any excess air using a handheld vacuum sealer so that the bag sticks closely to the tuna fish. You can place multiple vacuum-sealed bags inside an additional airtight plastic container for better protection against punctures, tears, or other chances of contamination.

Set the Temperature to 40°F or Lower

Another way to prolong the shelf life of your tuna fish is by making sure it’s stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4°C). The lower temperature ensures there is no bacterial growth while keeping the fish fresh. It also slows down enzyme activity that could speed up degradation and the onset of spoilage.

Furthermore, if you plan to consume your tuna fish within two days, keeping it fresh in the fridge should work fine. However, suppose you intend to keep it for more than 48 hours. In that case, you may need to freeze it instead to extend its shelf life further. Just make sure to move it to the freezer before 48 hours are up to ensure freshness longer.

It’s best if you store tuna fish in a sealed container for optimal freshness, and remember first-in, first-out to prevent wastage. That means consume the older ones before moving on to new stocks to avoid spoilage and get the most out of your fresh or frozen tuna fish.

“Airtight containers work well as oxygen-related deterioration can result from poor storage.” -Dr. Yikyung Park

Proper storage of tuna fish is vital if you want it to last longer. Remember to keep it at or below 40°F, use an airtight container to limit air exposure and extend shelf life, and adhere to first-in, first-out principles when consuming so that there are no losses due to food waste. With these tips, you can now enjoy fresher and tastier tuna fish for more extended periods than usual.

How to Tell If Tuna Fish Has Gone Bad


The appearance of tuna fish can be a clear indicator of its freshness. When tuna fish has gone bad, you will notice a change in color and texture. Fresh tuna should have a shiny surface with vibrant red or pink flesh. However, when the tuna goes bad, you will see dark spots on the skin along with dull flesh.

If the tuna flesh appears slimy or sticky to touch, it is not fresh anymore and needs to be discarded immediately. The fish may also develop a greyish-brown color along with an off-putting odor that signifies spoilage.


One surefire way to know if your tuna fish has gone bad is by smelling it. A fresh and healthy tuna has no significant smell at all. However, as the fish begins to age, bacteria present in it may cause it to release a foul odour that becomes more pronounced over time.

The stench emanating from bad tuna smells like ammonia, indicating that there is a fermentation process occurring inside. Such seafood should not be eaten.


Tuna’s texture is another reliable indicator of whether it has gone bad. Fresh tuna fish meat feels firm, compacted with long muscle fibers that resist pressure. In contrast, tuna fish that has gone stale or rotten will feel soft and mushy when touched. So, if the flesh is flaky, crumbly or disintegrates easily, consider throwing it away immediately.

Another thing you might notice when touching tuna past its prime is that it has developed a slimy residue on the surface. This slime buildup indicates bacterial growth, which is harmful to human health. Avoid eating such an unhealthy product.


The last way to tell if tuna fish has gone bad is by tasting it. You will immediately notice a sour, rancid taste when consuming spoiled or rotten tuna. So, before taking the first bite of your meal, savour its aromas and flavors thoroughly to avoid consuming diseased seafood.

It’s important to remember that even if the tuna does not smell, look, or taste off-putting, you should still take precautions when eating leftover fish.

“If stored properly in the refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or frozen below 0°F, leftover tuna can be considered safe to consume for up to four days.”

However, given how fast seafood can spoil at warm temperatures, avoiding leftovers and cooking new every time is always the best action you may take towards preventing foodborne illness.

If buying fresh sushi-grade tuna from the market to prepare raw sahis, serve as quickly as possible as they are highly perishable products that expire within five hours if displayed at room temperature and need refrigeration instantly after purchase. Keep them insulated between two cold packs en route home from the supermarket.

  • Ensure a clean supply chain, including proper handling throughout delivery and storage;
  • wash hands with soap and water before and after the handling procedure of seafood;
  • use separate chopping boards, utensils and cookware to prepare seafood items – cross-contamination prevention kit;
  • Cook all cuts of fresh or canned tuna fish throughly (meat thermometer insertion into the middle reaches a minimum internal temperature range of 165 °F) and wait until the texture turns opaque rather than transparent greyish;
  • Avoid overcooking that may cause dryness or degrading flavour of seafoof.

Can You Freeze Tuna Fish? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you have excess tuna fish and want to store it for longer periods, freezing it is an excellent option. However, before doing so, it is essential to know some important facts about freezing tuna fish.

Freezing Fresh Tuna

Fresh tuna can be frozen, but it needs to be done correctly to avoid damaging the quality of the meat. First, rinse the fresh tuna in cold water, then pat it dry with a paper towel. Next, wrap the tuna tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in a freezer-safe container or bag. Be sure to label the package with the date of purchase and type of fish.

If you plan on storing your fresh tuna fish in the freezer for an extended period, it’s best to vacuum-seal it. This method eliminates air pockets that cause freezer burn, which degrades the quality of the fish. It will also keep bacteria from spoiling the tuna. A vacuum-sealed fish can last up to two years in the freezer.

To defrost frozen tuna, gently thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re short on time, put the wrapped block of fish into a hot water bath. Never allow the tuna fish to sit out at room temperature as this can lead to bacterial growth and spoilage.

Freezing Cooked Tuna

Cooked tuna can also be frozen, and it retains its freshness and flavor quite well. When cooked correctly, frozen tuna flesh does not lose much texture or taste. For best results, let the cooked tuna come down in temperature gradually to avoid large ice crystals forming inside. Rapid cooling causes the juices to leak out of the fish and makes it less savory and juicy when reheated later.

Like fresh tuna, wrap cooked tuna tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep air out. This helps prevent freezer burn and extends its shelf life. Labeling the container with the date of purchase and type of fish is essential for easy tracking of food safety measures.

Cooked frozen tuna should be thawed in the refrigerator overnight before reheating it in your preferred method. The best way to preserve flavor and texture when reheating is to use a steamer on low heat. You can also reheat frozen tuna using a microwave but do so carefully as overcooking will result in a rubbery texture that’s less appetizing and enjoyable.

“Frozen tuna rarely goes bad, but improper storage can reduce the quality of the meat.” -The Spruce Eats

Freezing tuna fish is an excellent option to extend its shelf life and minimize food waste. Understanding how to freeze fresh and cooked tuna correctly can help you maintain the quality of the meat and enjoy its freshness whenever you want.

How Long Can Canned Tuna Last in the Fridge?

Unopened Canned Tuna

According to the USDA, unopened canned tuna can last up to 5 years when stored properly. It is essential to keep the cans in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

The expiry date on the top or bottom of the can indicates the period until which the quality of the tuna is guaranteed. However, if you notice any bulging, rusting, leaking, or foul smell emanating from the can, it is best to discard it, no matter how far away its expiration date is.

“Canned seafood has an almost indefinite shelf life at moderate temperatures (75° Fahrenheit) because the canning process destroys organisms that cause spoilage.” -Maurice Bennet, Seafood Safety Lab Director at UGA

Opened Canned Tuna

If you have opened canned tuna and want to store the leftovers in the fridge, transfer it to an airtight container or cover it tightly with cling wrap. Opened canned tuna can last between 2-4 days if refrigerated promptly within two hours after opening. In case it smells funky or appears mushy, slimy, discoloured, or oily, discard it.

Pregnant women, older adults over 65 years, and people with compromised immunity should be careful about eating leftover canned tuna as they are more susceptible to infections caused by bacteria like Clostridium botulinum, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes present in contaminated food.

“Anytime we talk about high-protein foods, whether it’s meats or fish or poultry, there’s always a risk for bacterial contamination” -Kathleen Buckner, Assistant Professor of Food Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota

Refrigerated Tuna Salad

If you have prepared tuna salad with canned tuna and mayonnaise or other perishable ingredients, do not leave it outside for more than 2 hours. It is best to refrigerate the leftovers immediately as they can only last for 3-5 days in a chilled environment.

In case you are unsure about the storage time, appearance, or odour of your leftover tuna salad, skip eating it. Symptoms like vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever can indicate food poisoning caused by contaminated food.

“It is challenging to determine whether the protein salad has gone bad even if all storage guidelines were followed.” -Sarah Downs, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Consultant

Freezing Canned Tuna

You may freeze canned tuna for long-term storage in an airtight bag or container without any liquid or added salt. However, freezing can alter its texture and taste, making it dry or bland when thawed. The frozen canned tuna can last up to 4 months in the freezer before exposing it to frostbite damage or staleness.

Canned tuna that has been previously opened should be used within a month after being stored in the freezer.

“While safe indefinitely, canned tuna or other fish stored in the freezer will become stale and lose flavor over time.” -USDA FoodKeeper App
In conclusion, storing canned tuna properly in the fridge or freezer ensures its freshness and safety. Checking for signs of spoilage before consumption can prevent food-borne illness and ensure optimal health benefits. Follow these guidelines to enjoy your favourite tuna dishes safely!

Delicious Tuna Recipes to Try Before Your Tuna Fish Goes Bad

Tuna fish is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It has become one of the most popular seafood in the world due to its versatility in cooking. However, if stored incorrectly or for too long, tuna can go bad quickly. The question remains: how long does tuna fish last in the fridge?

The shelf life of raw tuna in the fridge depends on several factors such as temperature, storage method, and packaging. On average, raw tuna lasts for 1 to 2 days when stored properly at a temperature between 35°F to 40°F. Canned tuna can last up to 5 years in the pantry, making it an excellent option for easy and quick pantry meals.

If you have some fresh tuna that needs to be used soon, try out one of these delicious recipes before your tuna goes bad!

Tuna Poke Bowl

Poke bowls are a trendy Hawaiian dish that typically consists of diced raw fish, rice, vegetables, and sauces. This recipe puts a tropical twist on traditional poke using fresh tuna and juicy pineapple chunks.

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. fresh Ahi tuna, cubed
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 large mango, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 small pineapple, diced
  • Sesame seeds and scallions for garnish
“The best part of poke is that it is a very low-fat, high-protein meal that you can customize to your own tastes” -Chef Lee Anne Wong
  • Cook the rice according to package instructions and let cool.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, toss tuna with half the dressing mixture. Let marinate in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  • Assemble your poke bowls by layering cooked rice on the bottom of the bowl, followed by sliced onions, diced mango, avocado, pineapple, and marinated raw tuna on top.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions before serving.

Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps

This recipe lightens up traditional tuna salad and eliminates the need for bread. Instead, lettuce leaves are used as a crunchy wrap, adding a fresh twist to this classic sandwich.

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cans chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Boston Bibb or iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and dried
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
“Greek yogurt adds creaminess and tartness to salads without all the fat of regular mayo.” -Gina Homolka
  • In a medium bowl, mix together tuna, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, celery, red onion, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Spoon about 1/3 cup of tuna salad onto each lettuce leaf.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Both of these recipes are great for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner option. However, it’s important to remember that consuming raw fish comes with a level of risk. To reduce this risk, make sure to purchase high-quality, sushi-grade tuna and always follow proper storage techniques to avoid the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can fresh tuna last in the fridge?

Fresh tuna can last up to two days in the fridge if stored properly. It is important to keep it in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to prevent air from oxidizing the flesh, causing it to spoil faster.

Can I eat tuna that has been in the fridge for a week?

No, it is not recommended to eat tuna that has been in the fridge for a week. The general rule of thumb for cooked seafood is to consume it within 3-4 days after cooking to ensure freshness and prevent the risk of foodborne illness.

What are the signs that tuna has gone bad in the fridge?

The signs that tuna has gone bad in the fridge include a strong fishy smell, slimy texture, discolored flesh, and sour or rancid taste. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to discard the tuna to prevent the risk of food poisoning.

How should I store tuna in the fridge to make it last longer?

To make tuna last longer in the fridge, it should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to prevent air from oxidizing the flesh. It is also recommended to keep it on the bottom shelf of the fridge, where it is the coldest.

Is it safe to eat canned tuna that has been in the fridge for a month?

No, it is not recommended to eat canned tuna that has been in the fridge for a month, as it can spoil and increase the risk of foodborne illness. Canned tuna should be consumed within 3-4 days after opening to ensure freshness and safety.

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