Skip to Content

How to Tell If Shrimp Is Bad

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details.

Consuming seafood is a practice that has gone on for tens of thousands of years: since the Paleolithic period. Seafood has been an abundant resource – a delicacy – and is today simply a cultural experience or taste preference.

After all this time, seafood preparation may be assumed to be ingrained in the minds of all. However, especially in America, seafood is usually an occasional treat or unusual dish and not grandma’s recipe passed down through generations.

We don’t necessarily know off the top of our heads how to prepare it, and as uncommon as it may be in our households, we don’t know whether the supermarket shrimp we purchased is any good.

Read on to ensure the shrimp you bought to cook for your double date doesn’t leave an embarrassing memory of food poisoning!

uncooked shrimp

What Happens If You Eat Bad Shrimp?

Shrimp is often spoiled by growing bacteria and more toxic substances. If you consume bad shrimp, it can result in food poisoning. You may not immediately experience the effects of the bad shrimp, but will later develop headaches, diarrhea, stomach aches, and dizziness.

Other more extreme side effects to shrimp food poisoning can be numbness in the arms and legs, lips and tongue, and even paralysis. Food poisoning from shrimp can cause double vision or blurred vision as well.

How Long Is Shrimp Good For in the Fridge?

Regardless of whether it is shelled or unshelled, raw shrimp should only be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

To prolong its life in the fridge, place it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic. Keep it in the lowest section because that is where it’s coldest.

Cooked shrimp can stay good for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Once again, ensure it’s stored in an airtight container.

When transporting it to your home, ensure it is packed with ice or placed in a cooler so that it’s not spending dangerous amounts of time in warm temperatures.

Shrimp that is left out in temperatures above 40°F will double its bacteria growth every 20 minutes!

How Can You Tell If Thawed Shrimp Is Bad?

As with other frozen meats, place your shrimp in the refrigerator overnight or over a long portion of the day to thaw it. Below you’ll find different ways to determine if the frozen shrimp went bad, so if one is easier than the others you can choose that method of determining freshness, or use all three!

Once thawed, smell the shrimp. Does it smell wrong? Typically, good shrimp will smell mildly like the sea, a hint of ocean or salt water. If it doesn’t smell like this, throw it out!

peeled shrimp uncooked

Examine the appearance of the thawed shrimp. What does it look like? It should be shiny and translucent. If not, don’t risk it and chuck it in the bin. Your future self and your guests will thank you.

Finally, the last way to determine whether the shrimp went bad is to touch it. Touching it should usually be a last resort, especially if suspected to be bad because if you turn around and touch things that eventually make contact with your mouth, you’ll be throwing up regardless.

When touching the shrimp, it should feel wet (obviously), but it should not feel slimy. Slimy shrimp should be thrown out immediately.

Remember that for all of these signs, just one is enough to merit disposal. Don’t keep the shrimp just because it smells fine even though it’s slimy – it won’t end well!

What Does Bad Shrimp Smell Like?

Good, fresh shrimp have the salty sea air smell of the ocean. Spoiled fresh shrimp will smell like ammonia, which is caused by the bacteria growing on the shrimp.

Bad cooked shrimp will have a strong sour smell and is the easiest to tell whether it is no good.

fresh cooked shrimp

How to Tell If Shrimp Is Bad by Taste

Bad shrimp will taste like chlorine or like ammonia, similar to how it smells after it has spoiled. It will have a softer, slimy texture which differs from the way it should feel when it is safe to eat, which is wet and firm.

However, we caution you to not determine whether the shrimp is good by sticking it in your mouth! It is a surefire way of knowing whether it has spoiled, but also a surefire way to spoil the rest of your week with food poisoning and all of its nasty effects such as gas, diarrhea, and vomiting!

Instead, opt for simply smelling or looking over the food. You can touch it as well to determine the texture, but that may also transfer bacteria that can end up in your mouth so it is safest to look or to smell, but not to touch – and definitely not to eat!

How to Tell If Cooked Frozen Shrimp Is Bad

Cooked shrimp should appear pink, while raw or fresh should be white or clear. If your shrimp contains shells, an immediate cause for suspicion is shells that are falling off of the shrimp. The shells should be firmly attached, and if they do not appear that way in your freezer, throw them out!

Frozen shrimp should have a mild seawater smell, so any overwhelming, unpleasant smells are an instant no.

giant shrimp raw

Raw Prawns/Shrimp Turning Pink in the Fridge – Does It Mean It Is Bad?

Thawed shrimp before being cooked should appear white or translucent in the fridge. If it is already cooked, the shrimp will be pink, but if it is fresh or raw and displaying a pink color that hints at deterioration of the shellfish and merits an immediate chuck in the bin.

How to Tell If Shrimp Cocktail Is Bad

Shrimp cocktails can last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, or 10 to 12 months if properly stored in the freezer. If it is bad, it will be slimy to the touch and smell like foul fish.

Yellow Spots on Frozen Shrimp

Bad shrimp may also have a discoloration hinting that the flesh has spoiled. Yellow, gritty coloration on a shrimp may hint that it is old and that the seller tried to cover up the fact by using a chemical called sodium bi-sulfate. If this is the case, dispose of it immediately and don’t go to that seller again!

Shrimp Turned Green When Cooked? Should I Still Eat It?

The bodies of raw shrimps should be transparent, but can overall appear white or greenish color. When it’s cooked, it should turn white and pink. If it turns green instead of turning from green, that is a reason for caution!