How Long Does Tuna Salad Last?

by Charlie
Published: Last Updated on
Tuna salad

When handling fish, it is very important to know how long it is safe to eat it for, and when it should be thrown away. Although you will often be able to tell if fish has gone off by the smell and texture, it’s still a good idea to know how long it should last for and when it should be discarded.

How long does tuna salad last? Tuna salad should last for around three to five days, provided it is kept in the fridge throughout that time. You should never leave tuna salad at room temperature, so only serve up what you wish to eat, and then put the rest straight back into the fridge. Fish that has been left at room temperature must be discarded.

How Should You Store Tuna Salad?

You should put tuna salad in the fridge as soon as you have finished serving it. As a tinned fish, tuna needs to be stored in the fridge in order to stop food borne bacteria from growing in the fish. 

The USDA says that tuna must be stored at or beneath 40 degrees F. If it is stored at higher temperatures than this, it is not safe to eat.

Stored like this, tuna should last for three to five days. You should check that your fridge is at a low enough temperature, and ideally store it in the coldest part of the fridge, and not the door.

Put your tuna salad in an airtight container, and seal it so that it does not make the fridge smell bad. The airtight container should also prevent the air from flowing over the tuna, which can make it last for longer.

What is Dangerous About ‘Bad’ Tuna?

Harmful bacteria can breed in tuna that is left at warm temperatures. This will make you very sick if you eat it. You may end up in hospital with a really bad case of food poisoning, and it can last for days at a time, so be careful about how you store your tuna.

Like all kinds of fish and like meat, bad tuna could make anyone who eats it very ill. You need to throw away any tuna that is no longer safe to eat. Although most forms of food poisoning are simply unpleasant, some can be more serious, and a few could even kill you. Do not take food safety lightly.

What Should You Do If You Accidentally Leave Tuna Salad Out?

Everyone has accidentally left food out of the fridge at times, and it’s annoying when this happens. If you have left tuna salad out, you will need to assess how long it has been out for so that you can decide whether it is safe to eat or not. If it is not safe to eat, throw it away.

If you leave tuna salad on the counter for five minutes, nothing bad will happen. However, according to USDA guidelines, tuna must be refrigerated within two hours in order to prevent bacterial growth.

The longer you leave tuna out for, the faster it will go off. If you leave tuna out for an hour and then refrigerate it, it may still be safe to eat the following day, but it will not keep for the full five days. Prompt refrigeration is key.

If you do not manage to refrigerate your tuna according to the USDA’s guidelines, you should throw it away rather than risk eating it or allowing family members to eat it. It will no longer be safe for consumption. You will not necessarily get sick, but there is a high chance that you will.

How Do You Know If Tuna Salad Has Gone Bad?

You cannot always tell for sure whether tuna salad has gone off or not. Often, bacteria is something that you can detect using four of your five senses, but this is not always the case. The signs that you might see include a bad smell, white mold spots, a sour taste, or a slimy texture.

If you are in doubt about some tuna salad, you should first inspect it visually. Look for specks of white or blue on the surface of the tuna. Next, smell the tuna. Bad fish usually has a very unpleasant scent, and you will probably find that you don’t want to eat the tuna if this is the case.

If you are still uncertain, it should be safe to taste a small piece of the tuna salad. It may have a sour or unusual flavor, and the texture may have changed to be slimy or mushy.

When you notice any of these things, you should not eat the tuna salad. It will no longer be safe for consumption, and it should be thrown away promptly.

However, it is not always possible to tell if tuna salad has gone bad. While many kinds of bacteria leave detectable traces of their presence, some do not. Tuna can look, smell, taste, and feel fine, and still harbor dangerous bacteria.

That is why it is so important to follow the guidelines to ensure that your tuna is safe to eat, rather than just depending upon your senses.

What Happens If You Eat ‘Bad’ Tuna Salad?

The commonest symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, headaches, and sometimes a mild fever. You might experience any of these, or all of them, if you eat tuna salad that has gone off.

You are also likely to lose your appetite, and you may have stomach cramps, or suffer from nausea as a result of it. This is because the bacteria are affecting your digestive system and upsetting it. 

If you have diarrhea for more than three days, severe dehydration, a very high fever, or difficulty keeping fluids down, contact your doctor.

Final Thoughts

Tuna salad should last for three to five days in the fridge, but after this time has passed, you must throw it away. Throw away any tuna that looks, smells, or tastes odd, and do not leave tuna salad at room temperature for more than two hours at the most.

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