Can You Eat Opened Canned Tuna Left Out Overnight?

Tuna fish is a popular and economical source of protein that many people keep in their pantries. If you opened a can of tuna the previous night and forgot to refrigerate the remaining portion, you may only realize this in the morning.

It is not advisable to consume canned tuna that has been left out on the countertop for more than two hours, according to USDA guidelines. This means that opened canned tuna that has been left out overnight should be discarded immediately.

Food left at temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit should be discarded within an hour as higher temperatures provide a favorable environment for the rapid growth of harmful bacteria.

If you want to keep your perishable foods fresh for a longer time, it is recommended to seal them tightly and store them in the refrigerator at the ideal temperature range of 35-38 degrees.

How Long Does Canned Tuna Last?

When you frequently consume tuna, it might be a good idea to buy extra cans when they are on sale. However, the duration of their shelf life after purchase is a concern.

Undoubtedly, unopened canned tuna has a longer shelf life than opened ones, and there are distinct storage techniques for both. It is advisable to rely on your senses of sight and smell to determine the edibility of canned tuna.

If you are doubtful about the quality of canned tuna, relying on its taste to determine its freshness should be your last resort, as it may have an unpleasant flavor and cause nausea.


If you have opened a can of tuna fish, it is recommended to store it in the refrigerator as soon as possible. When kept in an airtight container, an opened can of fish can remain fresh for 3-5 days in the fridge.

Leaving an opened can of canned tuna on the counter reduces its safe consumption time to 1-2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. When in doubt about how long it has been left out, it is advisable to discard it and get a fresh one.

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Tuna cans usually have a best-by date of 3-5 years after purchase, but they can remain safe to consume even after this period. It is advisable to inspect the cans briefly to confirm that there is no harm and the contents are still fresh.

Proper storage conditions can prolong the shelf life of canned products significantly, but if they have been subjected to high temperatures or water damage, their spoilage rate will increase considerably.

What Happens If You Eat Tuna Left Out Overnight?

It is not advisable to eat opened canned tuna that has been left out on the counter for 8-10 hours or overnight due to its high perishability.

If you consumed leftovers that were left out for more than 2 hours, it is important to monitor yourself for any potential symptoms.

Consuming canned tuna that has gone bad or has been left out and exposed to bacteria can result in food poisoning.

If canned tuna is left out on the counter for an extended period, it will develop a strong fishy smell that indicates it is no longer safe to consume.

As someone who frequently eats canned tuna, you are likely able to distinguish between a can that is fresh and one that has spoiled. Once you detect the unpleasant odor of spoilage, it is advisable to discard the remaining contents and sanitize any surfaces that may have come into contact with the fish.

If you have consumed opened canned tuna that was left out, it is important to be prepared for potential symptoms of nausea or stomach cramping.

Additional indications of foodborne illness can result in an increase in body temperature and overall sensations of discomfort, such as exhaustion and shivering.

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If you start feeling unwell after consuming spoiled canned tuna, it is advisable to rest well and drink enough fluids to help your body eliminate the toxins. Generally, food poisoning caused by bad fish resolves on its own within a week with adequate hydration and rest.

How Should You Store Canned Tuna?

If you have any remaining tuna from a opened can, it is important to refrigerate it immediately to maintain its optimal quality. By doing so, the tuna can remain fresh and tasty for several days, making it safe for consumption during your next meal.

If you have leftover tuna, it’s understandable to want to save it for another meal since it is a cost-effective and nutritious choice.

Just like with other perishable items, it is recommended to store your tuna in a sealed container that is airtight to maintain its freshness.

To ensure the freshness of your canned tuna, it is recommended to keep it in a cool and dry place if you haven’t opened it yet. A pantry can be an ideal location for storing canned food items, provided they are placed on a shelf and not on the ground.

Canned goods should not be kept in the freezer or outside because the extreme temperatures can cause damage to the can.

When keeping canned goods for an extended time, ensure that you use them in rotation to avoid exceeding the expiry date.

Can Canned Tuna Go Bad?

Canned tuna, just like any other canned and perishable item, has the potential to spoil. The contents can become spoiled over time due to inadequate storage methods or damage to the metal, such as rust or punctures, even if the can has never been opened.

If canned foods are stored in freezing temperatures, there is a possibility that the contents may spoil and even burst. On the other hand, if they are exposed to high temperatures, they are more likely to spoil early and should be opened with caution as they may not be safe for consumption.

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Although canned tuna can last for years beyond its expiration date if stored correctly, it will eventually become too old and undergo a significant decrease in nutritional value, flavor, and consistency.

Consuming the tuna that has turned excessively soft is improbable, particularly after being left out overnight.

How Can You Tell If Canned Tuna Has Gone Bad?

When checking the canned packaging of your tuna fish, it is important to look for any dents or rust, particularly along the seams, as these indicate that the contents of the can may have already been contaminated and should not be consumed.

Once you have opened the canned tuna, it is important to check if the color of the fish is pinkish and not an unattractive gray or brown hue.

It’s important to pay attention to the smell of opened canned tuna and if it has a strong and unpleasant odor, it’s best to dispose of it right away as it may have gone bad.

After preparing a dish using canned tuna, such as a tuna salad or patty, it is important to check for any signs of mold on the remaining food.

Tuna will eventually spoil even if refrigerated correctly and left for multiple days.

It is crucial to visually and olfactorily examine the tuna before consuming it, as this can determine its edibility.

If you are uncertain about the safety of canned tuna that has been left out overnight, it is better to dispose of it and purchase a fresh can to avoid any potential health risks.

You can also check this video about “Can You Eat Opened Canned Tuna Left Out Overnight?”

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