Determining whether fish has gone bad is important for food safety.. A good way to find out if a fish has gone bad is to smell it. If the fish emits a strong, fishy, or ammonia-like smell, it is likely spoiled.
What Is the Best Way to Tell if Fish Has Gone Bad?
The best way to tell if fish has gone bad is to rely on your senses—specifically, your sense of smell, sight, and touch. Here’s what to look for:
- Smell: Fresh fish should have a mild, briny scent reminiscent of the sea. If the fish emits a strong, pungent, fishy odor or an ammonia-like smell, it is a strong indication that it has spoiled. Trust your nose and avoid consuming fish with an unpleasant or off-putting smell.
- Appearance: Fresh fish should have clear, bright, and glossy eyes. The eyes should be relatively plump, not sunken. Dull or cloudy eyes can be a sign of spoilage. Additionally, the skin of fresh fish should be shiny and moist. Any discoloration, dryness, or slime on the skin may indicate that the fish has gone bad.
- Texture: The flesh of fresh fish should be firm, resilient, and spring back when touched. It should not feel slimy, mushy, or excessively soft. Run your fingers over the fish’s surface to check for any unusual textures. If the flesh is sticky or has a slimy coating, it is likely spoiled.
What Color is Spoiled Fish?
Fresh fish typically has vibrant and distinct colors. However, spoiled fish will appear dull or faded. Spoiled fish can develop dark spots or patches on the flesh.
The color may turn gray, greenish, or even yellowish, depending on the type of fish. Discoloration is often accompanied by changes in texture and odor.
How Do You Know if Fish Is Safe to Eat?
Fresh fish should have a mild, briny smell, clear and bright eyes, shiny skin, and firm flesh. If the fish smells strongly fishy, has cloudy or sunken eyes, dull or discolored skin, or mushy texture, it may be spoiled and unsafe to eat.
If you have any doubts about the freshness, quality, or safety of the fish, it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming it.
What Should You Do if You Think Fish Has Gone Bad?
Dispose of the fish if you believe it has spoiled. Do not attempt to salvage or consume it, as consuming spoiled fish can lead to foodborne illnesses.
Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after handling the spoiled fish. Clean and sanitize any surfaces, utensils, or cutting boards that came into contact with the fish to avoid spreading bacteria.
What Are the Symptoms of Fish Food Poisoning?
Some common symptoms associated with fish food poisoning include:
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea, which may be watery or bloody
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Neurological Symptoms (in some cases):
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
- Other Symptoms:
If you experience any of these symptoms and you suspect fish food poisoning, please seek medical help.
How Do You Store Fish?
How to delay fish going bad? Follow these practical tips:
- Store fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator, ideally at a temperature of 32°F to 39°F (0°C to 4°C). Place the fish in a sealed container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent exposure to air and potential cross-contamination with other foods.
- It’s best to consume fish as soon as possible for optimal freshness. If you’re unable to consume it within a day or two, consider freezing it to extend its shelf life.
- Set your freezer to 0°F (-18°C) or below to maintain the quality of frozen fish.
How Long Does Fish Last?
Fresh Fish (Refrigerated):
- Whole fish: Fresh whole fish can typically be stored refrigerated for 1 to 2 days.
- Fish fillets and steaks: Fresh fillets or steaks can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days.
- The general guideline for frozen fish is around 3 to 6 months, but it can vary depending on the type of fish and the quality of freezing.
You can tell if fish has gone bad not only by its smell but also by its appearance and by touching it. Always check your fresh or frozen fish before consuming it to avoid the danger of getting food poisoning.