How Long Can Fish Stay in the Fridge After It’s Thawed?

Fish is a healthy, tasty addition to any meal, but it’s important to know how long it can be stored before becoming unsafe to eat. Some people think that storing thawed fish in the fridge for a few weeks is okay, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Once fish has been thawed, it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. So how long can fish stay in the fridge after being thawed?

Properly thawed fish can last in the fridge for two days. After this, you’re better off throwing the uneaten, potentially spoiled, fish away.

This may sound discouraging, since who wants to throw all that pricey fish out after only a couple of days? 

However, FDA guidelines state that all seafood should be eaten or thrown out within two days of defrosting to ensure safe consumption. If you won’t be eating it within two days of bringing it home, you should wrap it in moisture-proof paper, like foil or plastic, and keep it in the freezer for longer storage.

How long can fish stay in the fridge after being thawed?

When it comes to food, it’s always safer to be cautious. If you’re defrosting fish, leaving it in the fridge overnight is a safe and convenient method. 

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After it has been thawed, though, make sure to eat it as soon as possible. Keeping thawed, uncooked fish in the fridge for longer than two days can lead to spoiling and potential foodborne illness when consumed.

How long can fish stay in the freezer?

If you’ve just purchased a lovely piece of raw fish and you don’t plan on eating it within a couple of days, your best option is to store it in the freezer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, frozen fish will be safe indefinitely. 

Keep in mind, however, that the longer fish is stored in the freezer, the worse it will taste when you finally decide to eat it. For the highest quality of flavor and texture, frozen fish is best used within three to eight months.

Is it possible to refreeze thawed fish?

Raw fish should never be refrozen after it has been thawed. However, cooked fish is a different story. You can refreeze cooked fish once, as long as the fish has cooled off before being stored in the freezer. Cooked fish lasts for up to three months in the freezer.

What’s the safest way to thaw fish?

Depending on the dish you’re preparing, there are different methods for defrosting fish. But as a general rule, it’s never safe to leave your frozen, raw fish out on the counter to thaw.

  • The safest, most effective way to thaw frozen fish is to keep it stored in the refrigerator overnight. But sometimes waiting an entire night just isn’t an option.
  • If you need a quicker thaw, an alternate method is to seal the fish in plastic and cover it in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes per pound of fish. 
  • For the quickest thaw, you can use the “defrost” setting on your microwave. To do this safely, make sure to remove the fish once it becomes flexible but is still a little icy.
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No matter how you choose to thaw your fish, it’s important to eat it right away. Leaving fish out of the fridge for more than two hours is practically inviting bacteria that causes food poisoning to grow on your fish.

How can you tell if fish has spoiled?

The easiest way to tell if thawed fish has gone bad is to give it a sniff. All fish smells like fish, of course. However, spoiled fish – raw or cooked – will have an especially “fishy” odor. It may also start to smell sour, rancid, or like ammonia.

If your fish is still raw, another method to determine if it has spoiled is to check the color and feel of the flesh. Raw fish flesh is typically white or light pink, with a clear film of liquid. As it starts to spoil, the flesh may develop a grayish hue along with a slimy, milky coating.

What happens if you eat spoiled fish?

The two types of food poisoning you can get from eating spoiled fish are scombroid poisoning and ciguatera poisoning.

Symptoms of scombroid poisoning typically develop within 30 minutes after eating the contaminated fish and may include vomiting, hives, nausea, or pain in your abdomen. 

Ciguatera poisoning, on the other hand, can take anywhere between a few minutes to six hours after eating to show symptoms. These symptoms can include watery diarrhea, headache, nausea, vomiting, and numbness around the mouth and limbs.

This should go without saying, but if you think you may have gotten food poisoning, contact your healthcare provider immediately for a proper diagnosis.

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Final thoughts

Thawed fish should only be stored in the fridge for two days. If you aren’t positive you’ll eat your newly purchased fish within two days, your best option is to store it in the freezer. Wrap raw fish in moisture-proof paper and consume it within three to eight months after freezing.

If you’re worried that your fish may have gone bad, check it thoroughly for a rancid, overly “fishy” smell or slimy flesh. Eating fish that has gone bad can lead to foodborne illnesses like scombroid or ciguatera poisoning, so always take precautions to ensure your fish is still safe before eating it.