It’s a common question all of us have had; how long does something last in our fridge once prepared? Lets take a look at tuna salad and how long we could reasonably expect it to remain good to eat.
Chilled, fresh tuna should ideally be consumed immediately after purchase. You should store the tuna in the refrigerator for a maximum of two days before eating or discarding. But lets be real, nobody is using fresh tuna for tuna salad! It is much more common to use canned tuna since it’s so convenient and cost-effective.
Canned tuna lasts a lot longer than fresh tuna. The expiry date on the can will give the approximate recommended shelf life. Under normal circumstances, canned tuna can easily be kept unopened for at least 1 year after purchase.
Since canned food usually has a much longer shelf life, canned tuna can also be edible beyond the expiration date. However you must be careful to ensure the packaging was not compromised, and it was well-stored. This is because spoiled fish can harbor very dangerous bacteria and cause food poisoning.
How Long Can My Tuna Salad Last?
If your tuna salad was prepared from fresh tuna, you will only have a maximum of 2 days from the date of purchase of the tuna, regardless of when the salad was prepared afterwards. It is recommended to use canned tuna for tuna salad for this reason.
Tuna salad prepared from regular canned tuna can last an average of 3 days with proper storage in an air-tight container in the fridge.
You may find that you can still eat the tuna salad up to 5 days if it was made from very freshly canned and high-quality tuna fish. This is the absolute maximum you can expect to eat prepared tuna salad. Any tuna salad should be discarded after the maximum life of 5 days!
Once your tuna salad is removed from the refrigerator and served, it should only remain un-refrigerated for a maximum of 2 hours. If you intend to have tuna salad for an event, and require a longer serving time, it is best to portion out different servings of tuna salad and only bring out as you need it.
Since your tuna salad is made up of other ingredients, other than the tuna, its edible shelf-life also depends these other ingredients. Your mayonnaise, onions, celery and whatever other things you choose to add must be of the freshest and highest quality in order to maximize the life of your tuna salad.
Proper Storage to Extend Shelf Life of Canned Tuna
- Store in a cool, clean, dry place where temperatures are below 85 F (between 50-70 F is good) but not too cold.
- Rotate so the oldest is used first. Ideally try not to consume canned foods within 1 year. Proper rotation is key.
- Use canned tuna within a maximum of 3 years of the date on the package.
- Inspect cans for any sign of damage, rusting, or bulging. Discard any noted damaged cans.
- Canned foods will loose flavor, nutritional value and quality the longer they are stored.
How Do I Recognize Fresh Quality Tuna?
You can recognize a fresh tuna fillet by its reddish color. This varies from light to dark depending on the tuna. At the same time, color stabilizers are sometimes introduced that make the fish appear even more saturated red.
There is no smell of fish. This is key! A fresh tuna smells gently of the sea and a little salty. Likewise, no slimy film or dark spots have formed on the fish. Fresh tuna should also be constantly chilled cool.
Canned tuna smells a bit stronger, but pleasant. The fish is juicy and there are no discolored spots or crystals in the oil. Any inconsistent color in the fish itself or the brine should indicate it may be compromised.
How Do I Recognize Bad Expired Tuna?
Bad raw tuna develops a penetrating smell of fish! This is a clear indication that the food has gone bad. Such a fish fillet must be disposed of. There is no way to ‘save’ expired fish, and it is high risk for food-born illness.
If a slimy film has formed on the fish or the fillet has already dried out a bit, then the tuna is no longer suitable for consumption.
Bad canned tuna smells just as pungent and rotten. The strong smell can be noted immediately after opening the can. The tuna may be discolored or uneven texture and mold formed within the can.
In regular practice this does not occur with proper storage. However, if the tuna can was not completely closed or it was damaged it can spoil very quickly.