How Long Does Fish Last?

Fish - how long does fish last? The shelf life of fish depends on a variety of factors, such as the sell by date the preparation method and how the fish was stored. Because of its abundance, proven health benefits and concentration of protein, fish is a great main dish choice. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids (also known as the good cholesterol) which are proven to lower the risk of heart disease and help with numerous other health problems.

So, how long does fish last? When properly stored, the shelf life of fish past its sell by date is approximately ...

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Fish Expiration Date

Pantry Fridge Freezer
Past Printed Date Past Printed Date Past Printed Date
Salmon lasts for -- 1-2 Days 6-9 Months
Cod lasts for -- 1-2 Days 6-9 Months
Halibut lasts for -- 1-2 Days 6-9 Months
Ono lasts for -- 1-2 Days 6-9 Months
Tilapia lasts for -- 1-2 Days 6-9 Months
Catfish lasts for -- 1-2 Days 6-9 Months
Cooked Fish lasts for -- 5-6 Days 6-9 Months
Smoked Salmon lasts for -- 5-7 Days 3-6 Months
Canned Tuna lasts for 2-5 Years 5-7 Days --
Sardines last for 2-5 Years 5-7 Days --

Of course, fish lasts for a shorter period of time if it is not stored properly. But remember that fish, like a lot of other proteins, usually has a sell by date and not a use by date or expiration date. Because of this distinction, you may safely use fish even after the sell by date has lapsed. If there is a use-buy date on fresh fish, then it is recommended to either cook or freeze the fish by that date.

Commercially frozen fish, if kept frozen, can be safely stored for 10-12 months.

How to tell if Fish is bad, rotten or spoiled?

Practicing proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help prevent foodborne illness.

Although not a perfect test, your senses are usually the most reliable instruments to tell if your fish has gone bad. Some common traits of bad fish are a slimy, milky flesh (a thick, slippery coating) and a fishy smell. This is hard because fish is smelly and slimy by nature, but these traits become much more pronounced when fish has gone bad.

Fresh fillets should glisten like they came out of water.
Give the fish a sniff - it should smell like the ocean, but not fishy, if it is fresh.

If the fish contains a bloodline (a strip of bloody muscle that runs through the center of many fish) it should be red in color and not brown.
If the fish is whole, the eyes should be clear and the scales should be intact.

It's recommended to use fresh fish within 36 hours of purchase.

There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled foods so always remember to practice food safety and enjoy your foods before their shelf life has expired!

How to store Fish to extend its shelf life?

You can help keep fish fresh longer by storing it in the coldest part of your refrigerator immediately after use. Once prepared, fish should be stored in a tightly closed container to keep out moisture and other contaminants. All fish should be constantly refrigerated or kept on ice at all times.

For a long-term option, you can freeze your fish while preserving its taste if you use a freezer safe container.
Consider buying fish frozen, as it is often fresher and more affordable than what you find at the seafood counter of the grocery!

Some benefits of proper food storage include eating healthier, cutting food costs and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

Interesting facts about Fish:

For more information on canned fish products, including when to toss, see our canned meat page.

How long is Fish good for when prepared in a dish?

How long does fish last? That depends. How long does rice last? In general, fish lasts only as long as the quickest expiring ingredient in the dish.

What are our shelf life resources?

In determining how long Fish lasts, our content incorporates research from multiple resources, including the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scoured the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and the shelf life of Fish.

*An important note about expiration dates...

Although the Fish shelf life information on Eat By Date is generally reliable, please remember that individual cases will vary and that our advice should only be taken as an opinion and not a replacement for your health care professional. Please eat responsibly!

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