How To Tell If Shrimp Has Gone Bad In The Freezer

How to Tell if Shrimp Has Gone Bad in the Freezer: Top Tips

Last Updated on May 19, 2024 by Shari Mason

Have you ever considered making delicious shrimp for dinner, only to discover that the ones in your freezer may be spoiled? It can be quite disappointing, right?

I recently faced a similar situation, and I’ll share how to tell if shrimp has gone bad in the freezer. 

Knowing the signs is important so you can enjoy your shrimp dishes without any worries. Read on. 

Helpful Tips To Tell If Shrimp Has Gone Bad In The Freezer

Frozen Shrimp on a Bowl

1. Freezer Burn on Shrimp

If your frozen shrimp [1] looks covered in frosty crystals, it might have freezer burn. This happens when the shrimp isn’t properly sealed in airtight packaging. 

“The smell of shrimp is comforting.” 

Lennon Parham, American Actress

Freezer burn doesn’t make the shrimp unsafe to eat but can affect the taste and texture. So, if you spot a freezer burn, consider using it sooner rather than later.

2. Torn Or Opened Packaging

Take a good look at the packaging of your frozen shrimp. If it’s torn, ripped, or has any holes, it’s a sign that air might have snuck in. 

This can lead to freezer burn and expose your shrimp to contaminants. It’s best to use something other than shrimp with damaged packaging.

3. Bendable Shrimp

Your shrimp should be firm and icy when they’re properly frozen. If they feel soft and bendable, it’s not a good sign. 

This could mean they’ve thawed and refrozen at some point, making them unsafe to eat. If your shrimp have lost their firmness, it’s better to toss them.

4. Expired “Use By” Date

Check the packaging for the “use by” or “best by” date. If it’s past this date, discarding the package is safest. 

This date is there for a reason – to ensure the shrimp’s quality and safety. Eating shrimp past this date can be risky.

What Are The Signs If Fresh Shrimps Are Spoiled?

  1. Surface Condition: Good shrimp should feel smooth, not slimy, on the surface or underneath the shell. If it’s gooey or sticky, that’s a sign it isn’t gone well.
  2. Color: Fresh shrimp should have a consistent color without weird marks or odd discoloration. If you spot faded or off-color patches, it’s a telltale sign of spoilage.
  3. Mold: If you see any mold on the shrimp or its packaging, it indicates it’s well past its expiration date. Safely toss it away.
  4. Smell: Fresh shrimp should carry the scent of salty ocean water, a bit like the sea breeze. However, a rotten or overly fishy smell is a red flag for spoilage. Trust your nose!
  5. Texture: When touching fresh shrimp, they should feel firm and tender. It’s a sign that they’re no longer good to eat if they’re soft or mushy to the touch.

Find out if you can eat the shell of a shrimp here.

What Happens If I Eat Shrimp That Has Gone Bad?

Serious consequences may arise from eating shrimp past its freshness. One common risk is a 

Salmonella infection [2], which is quite common in the US.

If you consume spoiled shrimp, you might experience symptoms within 6 hours to 6 days, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting, lasting for 4 to 7 days. 

In extreme cases, hospitalization could become essential, and your doctor may advise antibiotics as part of the treatment.

To avoid these risks, learning how to identify spoiled shrimp and ensure your seafood is safe to eat is crucial.

But what to do if you accidentally eat raw shrimp?

How Long Can Shrimp Be Stored Before It Goes Bad?

Frozen Shrimp on a Ziploc

Shrimp can be stored safely if you follow a few guidelines. Raw shrimp typically last in the fridge for one to two days, so it’s best to use them quickly. 

However, freezing is your friend if you want to keep them fresh longer. When frozen, raw shrimp can last for several months without spoiling.

“Don’t let your shrimp turn into a mystery in the freezer – trust your senses and these simple signs to determine if they’re still good to go.”

Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice

On the other hand, cooked shrimp have a shorter shelf life. They’ll remain good for about three to four days in the fridge. 

If you decide to reheat cooked shrimp, use a lower temperature and keep a close eye on them to prevent overcooking, ensuring they stay safe to eat. 

How Should Fresh Shrimp Be Stored?

  1. Use Resealable Plastic Bag: Put your fresh shrimp in a resealable plastic bag. Ensure they’re in a single layer, not piled on each other.
  2. Use Wax Paper to Absorb Moisture: To prevent excess moisture, loosely cover your shrimp before sealing the container or bag. This helps keep them from getting too soggy.
  3. Avoid Overstacking: Don’t stack too many layers of shrimp on top of each other. Limit it to just two layers to ensure they stay fresh and not get crushed.
  4. Store on the Coldest Shelf: Keep your tightly sealed container on the coldest shelf of your refrigerator, preferably over crushed ice. This helps maintain the optimal temperature to keep your shrimp at their freshest.

Related Post: What Should You Do Serve With Shrimp & Grits For Brunch?


Is it alright to eat shrimp with freezer burn?

Eating shrimp with freezer burn is safe, but it might not be as enjoyable. Freezer burn can cause shrimp to become dry and tough, affecting its taste and texture. 

To ensure a better dining experience, it’s recommended to thaw and inspect the shrimp before cooking or consuming it.

Can defrosted shrimp spoil?

Yes, defrosted shrimp can spoil. If thawed in the fridge, they are safe for up to two days. 

But if you practiced the cold water thawing method, it is crucial to commence cooking them promptly to prevent spoilage and guarantee food safety.

In Summary

Recognizing signs of spoiled shrimp is essential to ensure your seafood dishes are delicious and safe. 

As mentioned above, checking for surface condition, color, mold, smell, and texture is key when determining if your fresh shrimp has gone bad. 

Ignoring these indicators can lead to unpleasant consequences, including foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria like Salmonella. 

By remaining cautious and following our recommended steps, you can protect yourself from potential health dangers while savoring the delicious flavors of fresh, safe shrimp.


Shari Mason

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