Fish and also shellfish save high high quality protein and also other essential nutrients and also are an essential part that a healthful diet. In fact, a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can add to heart wellness and help in children’s proper growth and also development.

You are watching: How long is frozen seafood good for

As with any form of food the is vital to handle seafood safely to reduce the hazard of foodborne illness, often referred to as “food poisoning.” Follow these safe dealing with tips because that buying, preparing, and also storing fish and also shellfish – and also you and your household can safely gain the good taste and good nutrition the seafood.


Buy Right

Fresh Fish and also Shrimp

Only buy fish that is refrigerated or shown on a special bed of fresh ice cream (preferably in a situation or under some kind of cover). Because the shade of a fish can be influenced by several factors including diet, environment, treatment through a color fixative such together carbon monoxide or other packaging processes, shade alone is no an indicator that freshness. The complying with tips can help you once making purchase decisions:

Fish must smell fresh and also mild, no fishy, sour, or ammonia-like.A fish’s eyes need to be clear and also shiny.Whole fish should have firm flesh and red gills v no odor. New fillets should have actually firm flesh and red blood lines, or red flesh if new tuna. The flesh have to spring back when pressed.Fish fillets should display no discoloration, darkening, or drying about the edges.Shrimp, scallop, and also lobster flesh should be clear v a pearl-like shade and tiny or no odor.Some refrigerated seafood may have time/temperature indicators on their packaging, which display if the product has actually been stored in ~ the suitable temperature. Always check the indicators when they are present and also only purchase the seafood if the indicator reflects that the product is for sure to eat.Fresh fish and also fish fillets sold as “Previously Frozen” might not have all the attributes of fresh fish (e.g., glowing eyes, for sure flesh, red gills, flesh, or bloodlines), however, they must still smell fresh and also mild, no fishy, sour, or rancid.

Selecting Shellfish

Follow these general guidelines for safely selecting shellfish:

Look for the label: Look for tags top top sacks or containers of live shellfish (in the shell) and also labels on containers or packages of shucked shellfish. This tags and labels contain particular information about the product, including the processor’s certification number. This way that the shellfish to be harvested and processed in accordance with nationwide shellfish security controls.Discard Cracked/Broken Ones: throw away clams, oysters, and also mussels if their shells room cracked or broken.Do a “Tap Test”: Live clams, oysters, and mussels will close when the shell is tapped. If they nothing close as soon as tapped, execute not choose them.Check for Leg Movement: Live crabs and lobsters should display some foot movement. They spoil promptly after death, so only live crabs and lobsters must be selected and also prepared.

Frozen Seafood

Frozen seafood deserve to spoil if the fish thaws during transport and also is left at heat temperatures for as well long prior to cooking.

Don’t to buy frozen seafood if its package is open, torn, or crushed on the edges.Avoid packages with signs of frost or ice cream crystals, which may mean the fish has actually been stored a long time or thawed and refrozen.Avoid packages where the “frozen” fish flesh is not hard. The fish must not be bendable.

Store Properly

Put seafood on ice or in the frozen refrigerator or freezer quickly after purchase it. If seafood will be provided within 2 days after purchase, save it in a clean refrigerator in ~ a temperature the 40°F or below. Use a frozen refrigerator thermometer to check! Otherwise, wrap the tightly in plastic, foil, or moisture-proof record and store it in the freezer.

Separate for Safety

When preparing new or thawed seafood, it’s essential to prevent bacteria from life seafood from spreading to ready-to-eat foods. Take these steps to stop cross-contamination:

When buying unpackaged cook seafood, make sure it is physically be separate from life seafood. It must be in its very own display instance or be separate from raw product by dividers.Wash your hands for at the very least 20 secs with soap and also warm water after ~ handling any type of raw food.Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and also hot water in between the ready of life foods, such together seafood, and the ready of cooking or ready-to-eat foods.For added protection, kitchen sanitizers have the right to be provided on cut boards and also counter tops after use. Or use a systems of one tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach every gallon that water.If you use plastic or various other non-porous cut boards, run them, in addition to plastic, metal, or ceramic utensils v the dishwasher after use.

Picnic Tips

A Clean Cooler Is Critical. Be sure to clean coolers with warm soapy water before packing cooking seafood. Clean is especially important if the cooler to be previously used to transfer raw seafood. If the cooler has been used to transport raw seafood, that is likewise a great idea come sanitize the inner after cleaning using a kitchen sanitizer. A clean cooler stays clear of harmful bacteria indigenous the life fish indigenous contaminating cooked seafood or various other foods.

Keep Chilled till Serving. carry picnic seafood in a cooler with cold packs or ice. As soon as possible, put the cooler in the shade and also keep the lid closeup of the door as much of the time as you can.

Prepare Safely


Thaw frozen seafood progressively by placing the in the refrigerator overnight. If you need to thaw seafood quickly, either seal the in a plastic bag and immerse that in cold water, or — if the food will be cooked immediately thereafter — microwave that on the “defrost” setup and stop the defrost cycle if the fish is tho icy but pliable.


Most seafood should be cooked come an internal temperature that 145°F. If girlfriend don’t have actually a food thermometer, there room other ways to recognize whether seafood is done.

Fish: The flesh is clear and separates conveniently with a forkShrimp, Scallops, Crab, and also Lobster: The flesh becomes firm and clearClams, Mussels, and Oysters: The shells open up during food preparation — throw out ones that don’t open

Uncooked spoiled seafood have the right to have sour, rancid, fishy, or ammonia odors. These odors become stronger ~ cooking. If you smell sour, rancid, or fishy odors in life or cooked seafood, carry out not eat it. If you odor either a fleeting or persistent ammonia smell in cooked seafood, carry out not eat it.


Follow this serving guidelines when your seafood is cooked and ready to it is in enjoyed.

Follow these serving guidelines once your seafood is cooked and also ready to it is in enjoyed.

Never leaving seafood or various other perishable food out of the frozen fridge for an ext than 2 hours or for an ext than 1 hour when temperatures are above 90°F. Bacteria the can cause illness grow conveniently at heat temperatures (between 40°F and also 140°F).For party planning, keep hot seafood hot and also cold seafood cold:Keep cold cool seafood refrigerated till time come serve.Serve cold seafood on ice if it is walk to continue to be out much longer than 2 hours.Keep hot seafood heated till time to offer or divide the seafood right into smaller containers and also keep castle in a refrigerator until time come reheat and also serve.Serve warm seafood under a heat source (e.g., hot lamp, crock pot, warm plate, etc.) if it is walking to stay out much longer than 2 hrs or discard the seafood after 2 hours.

Eating raw Seafood - What You have to Know

It"s always best to chef seafood thoroughly to minimization the danger of foodborne illness. However, if you select to eat life fish anyway, one preeminence of ignorance is to eat fish that has actually been previously frozen.

Some species of fish have the right to contain parasites, and also freezing will kill any kind of parasites that might be present.However, be mindful that freezing doesn"t death all harmful germs. That"s why the safest route is to cook your seafood.

Special wellness Notes

At-Risk Groups

Some civilization are at higher risk because that foodborne illness, and also are also much more likely to have actually a lengthier illness, experience hospitalization, or even die. These groups include:

Pregnant womenChildrenOlder adultsPersons with weakened immune equipment (such together transplant patients and also individuals v HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes)

These susceptible teams should protect against the adhering to foods:

Raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, or food containing life or undercooked seafood (for example, sashimi) discovered in part sushi or ceviche.Raw oysters, even if they are treated ~ they have been harvested. Post-harvest therapy eliminates part naturally arising pathogens, but does not eliminate all pathogens the can cause illnessRefrigerated species of exhilaration seafood other than in a cook recipe, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood (such together salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel) is generally labeled together "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky." canned or shelf-stable exhilaration seafood is acceptable.

See more: How Many Acres Is Area 51 And Aliens: The Myth, Meme, And The Strange Reality

Important Advice because that those who might come to be or space pregnant or breastfeeding and also children eras 1 - 11 years and also EPA have issued advice around eating fish. This advice can assist those who might end up being or room pregnant or breastfeeding and parents and caregivers who are feeding youngsters make informed selections when it involves the species of fish that room nutritious and safe to eat. This advice supports the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines because that Americans.

For much more information, watch 


 Enlarge in PDF

About Foodborne Illness

Know the Symptoms

Consuming danger foodborne bacteria will certainly usually cause illness in ~ 1 to 3 job of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 mainly later. Back most world will recoup from a foodborne disease within a short time, some can build chronic, severe, or even life-threatening wellness problems. Foodborne condition can periodically be confused with various other illnesses the have similar symptoms. The symptom of foodborne condition can include:

Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal painFlu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body ache

Take Action

If friend think the you or a household member has actually a foodborne illness, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Also, report the doubt foodborne illness to in either of this ways:

Contact MedWatch,’s security Information and Adverse event Reporting Program:

WATCH a video on Selecting and Serving Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safely