How do I know when my seafood is off?

Ever thought about this? Fish is the only food that starts to smell like itself when it’s going off. And yes, that can make it hard to gauge whether your salmon is still fresh or needs to be chucked. More often than not people don’t want to take the risk, so half our seafood supply ends up uneaten and thrown out.

eb0364c34384fad29087efd362895031 e1456357980484 How do I know when my seafood is off?
Image via Gourmet Traveller

I chatted to my mate and seafood expert, Costa Nemitsas from Southern Fresh Seafood, about when seafood actually needs to be chucked and what you can do to make it last longer. Over to you, Costa!

Raw fish

*A whole fish keeps for up to 12 days. Assuming it’s fresh and stored at 0 degrees. (Note: If a fish is kept at 4 degrees, it’s life span is reduced by half.)

*A fillet of oily fish keeps for up to 5 days. The best way to keep fillet fish is to separate the fillets via plastic sheets or wax paper.

*A fillet of non-oily fish keeps for 3-4 days. The thing to look out for here is whether the fish has turned slimy. Keep it until it does!

Cooked fish 

All cooked fish – including crumbed, battered, fried, grilled, roasted – lasts for 3 days in the fridge.

Smoked/cured fish 

Keeps for a week. Obviously this is after the packet has been opened. Before that, look at the consume-by-date.

Shellfish (cooked) 

Keeps for up to 3 days.


These things need to be eaten the same day. They should be consumed within 24 hours of being shucked. You can, however, buy them live and shuck them yourself, in which case they last for a week after live purchase.

A few handy fish-storing tips for giving your fish a longer shelf life:

Keep fish fillets separate.

If they are separated with a plastic sheet or wax paper and don’t touch flesh to flesh, their shelf life extends to the maximum. This also prevents deterioration and discolouration.

Put shellfish on ice.

Once thawed or freshly bought in the store the best way to keep it fresh until consumption is to submerge it in ice.

Cover shellfish with a damp cloth.

When you store leftover cooked shellfish in a bowl, cover it with a damp cloths to allow cold air circulation within.

Shell your prawns.

This stops the dark spots occurring from natural oxidisation on prawns and avoids the risk of a bitter taste.

Marinate your prawns. 

Costa says marinating raw prawn flesh in olive oil or other marinades will buy you another 2-3 days. 

Store any fish away from anything raw.

This avoids cross-contamination and lowers the risk of spoilage.

Do you find yourself chucking out seafood way too frequently? Are these tips helpful?

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