Tuna is a convenient and versatile protein-rich food that can be prepared in various ways, providing a good source of daily omega-3s, which explains its widespread presence in households.
However, if a can of tuna is opened and left out overnight or if fresh tuna is left in a grocery bag overnight, what should be done?
If fresh or canned tuna has been opened and left out overnight, it is not safe to consume as per the USDA’s guidelines. Tuna falls under the “danger zone” category after being exposed to room temperature for two hours.
If your tuna has been left out for a short period, how can you determine if it has spoiled? What signs should you be searching for, and what are the dangers of consuming spoiled tuna? We will address all of these issues in this article.
How Long Can Tuna Be Left Out Before Going Bad?
To clarify the type of tuna in question, it is important to note that there are various forms available, including fresh options such as skipjack, albacore, yellowfin, and bigeye, as well as canned varieties like albacore and chunk light.
Canned tuna of any type that remains unopened can be stored on your pantry shelf for an extended period and remain safe to eat.
If you have discovered a closed can of tuna in your pantry and are considering making tuna salad, it is highly likely that you bought it within its safe consumption period. Enjoy your meal!
Leaving an opened can of tuna out of cold storage for more than two hours is a definite no-no as it should not be consumed.
It is important to pay attention to your environment when deciding how long leftover tuna can be left out. If the temperature is higher than usual, it’s recommended to consume the tuna within an hour or refrigerate it.
If you have purchased a fresh, sushi-grade tuna steak for homemade sushi night and forgot to refrigerate it, be cautious.
According to the USDA, you should discard tuna that has been left out for two hours; however, if the temperature in the area where it was left is higher than usual, it is advisable to reduce this time frame to ensure safety when dealing with raw fish.
When it comes to perishable foods, it is advisable to consume them right away or store them in a cold place within two hours, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
How to Tell If Tuna Has Gone Bad
Fortunately, tuna has a reliable way of indicating whether it is still edible or not, as you can determine its safety by examining its scent, appearance, and container.
Just because tuna has a strong odor doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone bad, as the smell can be pungent even if it’s still safe to eat. However, whether you’re dealing with fresh or canned tuna, the scent should be clean and fresh. If the odor is unappetizing or causes you to recoil, then the tuna has spoiled.
It is important to take note of the color of fresh or frozen tuna as it is determined by the fat content and processing methods used to prevent the flesh from turning brown.
Be cautious if you observe discoloration around the bone in the tuna steak as it indicates inadequate storage during transportation or grocery storage.
If fresh or canned tuna shows any signs of darker brown, black, or green, it should be thrown away right away.
When checking if your tuna is still good to eat, it’s important to examine the packaging for two crucial details. Firstly, search for the sell-by date on canned or frozen tuna, and as long as you’re close to that date, it should be safe to consume.
When dealing with canned tuna, it is important to check for any bulges or openings at the seams of the can, and if there are any irregularities (excluding dents caused by transportation or storage), it is recommended to dispose of the can as it indicates spoilage and poses a potential risk of foodborne illness.
Can Eating Bad Tuna Make You Sick?
Consuming spoiled food can result in illness, and tuna is no exception. If you are aware that it has been left out for an unsafe amount of time or if you decide to take a chance on a doubtful can of tuna, there is a possibility of contracting foodborne illness.
Experiencing symptoms of food poisoning due to spoiled fish can vary from mild stomach uneasiness to severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, and emesis. Severe cases of these indications may result in dehydration, which is a critical health issue that requires medical attention.
It can be tempting to eat leftover tuna salad that was left out of the fridge, but it’s important to think about the potential consequences of consuming spoiled food and make a safe decision.
How Should Tuna Be Stored?
Make sure to properly wrap and store your tuna salad to enjoy as leftovers in sandwiches or salads for several days.
If you have prepared your preferred tuna salad recipe by mixing the canned tuna with vinegar or mayonnaise, consume the desired amount and store the remaining portion in a well-sealed container or bag before placing it in the refrigerator.
If you think you won’t be consuming your tuna salad within the next couple of days, it can be frozen by placing it in a resealable bag or storage container with some space for expansion during freezing, and kept in the freezer for up to five days.
If you opt for freezing your leftover tuna salad but desire a more convenient way to thaw and serve it, consider dividing it into individual serving portions before freezing. This way, you can take out only what you need and relish them for a maximum of five days.
If you have leftover fresh, raw tuna from sushi night and plan to use it for a salad the next day, ensure that your refrigerator is set at or below 39F. Wrap the remaining tuna tightly in plastic wrap and store it in a resealable bag or container. You can consume the leftovers within two days.
If you have fresh tuna that was flash-frozen during transport, do not refreeze it after buying from the store or after thawing at home. It is best to refrigerate any leftover tuna.
How Long Does Canned Tuna Last at Room Temperature?
Although tuna is a convenient and versatile food that can be used in various dishes such as salads, quick lunches, and meals for kids, it is essential to know how long it can remain on the pantry shelf before it becomes unsafe to consume.
When tuna is canned, it is protected from bacterial growth and can be stored for up to four years without any issues. However, if the can appears to have bulges or broken seams, it should be discarded.
If tuna is opened, it can only be consumed within two hours if kept at room temperature.
Tuna that has been canned will start to develop harmful bacteria within two hours of being left out at an average temperature, as it is the canning process that preserves the meat and not any other method of preserving the fish itself such as smoking or salting.
Keeping tuna at room temperature for more than an hour is not recommended if the temperature exceeds 90F/32C.
Leftover tuna can be a delicious meal for the next day, whether it’s a cherished family recipe or a homemade sushi dinner party. To fully enjoy your efforts, it’s important to store the leftovers properly.
You can also check this video about “Can You Eat Tuna Left Out Overnight?”
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