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What Does Bad Tuna Taste Like

What Does Bad Tuna Taste Like

Consuming spoiled tuna can make you sick. But what does bad tuna taste like? Here’s what to watch out for in terms of appearance, texture, smell and taste when determining if your tuna has spoiled.

Signs of Bad Raw Tuna

Raw tuna should have these qualities when fresh:

  • Appearance: Deep red to pink in color. Translucent eyes on whole fish.
  • Texture: Firm and meaty. Indentations disappear when pressed.
  • Smell: Very mild, briny scent. Should not smell fishy.
  • Taste: Clean, mild flavor. Not fishy or ammonia-like.

Color Changes

  • Gray, brown or milky discoloration signals spoilage
  • Lack of deep red or pink hue indicates tuna is not fresh
  • Dark brown or black spots around bones or flesh is unsafe

Strange Textures

  • Slimy film on surface of tuna
  • Mushy, mushy or mealy texture
  • Remains indented when pressed

Foul Odors

  • Strong, pungent “fishy” or ammonia-like smell
  • Sour, rotten scent
  • Unpleasant odors indicate spoiled meat

Off Tastes

  • Extremely fishy, “dirty” taste
  • Noticeable sourness or bitterness
  • Ammonia-like flavor
  • Metallic taste
Signs of Bad Cooked Tuna
Signs of Bad Cooked Tuna

Signs of Bad Cooked Tuna

Signs of spoilage in cooked tuna include:

  • Dry, flaky texture
  • Fishy or sour smell
  • Gray color with brown or black edges
  • Soft, mushy consistency
  • Sour, sharp taste
  • Odd coloration for specific tuna type

How Long Tuna Lasts

Fresh raw tuna steak1-2 days
Cooked tuna steak3-4 days
Canned tuna3-5 days after opening1-2 months
Fresh tuna steak2-3 months
  • Store tuna in coldest part of refrigerator
  • Freeze tuna steaks wrapped in layers for max freshness
  • Don’t leave tuna out more than 2 hours
Safe Tuna Storage

Safe Tuna Storage

  • Store tuna steaks on ice or in coldest part of refrigerator
  • Use frozen tuna within 2-3 months for best quality
  • Keep canned tuna below 40°F after opening
  • Wrap tuna steaks tightly before freezing
  • Discard tuna left at room temperature for 2+ hours


  • Why does my canned tuna smell bad even when not expired?

    Canned tuna can develop a bad odor from metal reacting with the tuna oils, even if it’s still safe to eat. Always inspect other signs like color changes.

  • Is it safe to eat tuna that tastes metallic or sour?

    No, metallic and sour flavors likely mean the tuna has spoiled. Don’t eat tuna that tastes or smells off.

  • Does Tuna Smell Fishy?

    Although tuna, especially canned tuna, can have a fishy odor, it is still a relatively mild smelling fish.


Consuming spoiled tuna can cause food poisoning, so know how to identify bad tuna by sight, smell and taste. Look for changes in color, texture and odor to determine if your tuna has gone bad before eating it.

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Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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