What does spoiled raw shrimp look like?

It doesn’t matter how tasty, succulent, and delicious shrimp are; every shrimp lover has experienced a bad batch of shrimp.

On the one hand, bad shrimp may not taste good.

But on the other hand, bad shrimp may result in food poisoning, making you regret the day you picked up those seemingly delicious-looking BBQ shrimp.

It doesn’t matter which end of the bad shrimp spectrum you end up on. It is essential to know if shrimp is bad so you can discard them instead of ingesting bad shrimp.


  • How Long Do Shrimp Last?
  • How Do Shrimp Go Bad?
  • What Happens If You Eat Bad Shrimp?
  • How To Tell If Shrimp Is Bad
    • Aroma
    • Touch
    • Visual Cues
    • Best by Date or Sell by Date
  • How To Tell If Frozen Shrimp Are Bad
  • Final Thoughts

How Long Do Shrimp Last?

Shrimp’s shelflife can vary depending on several factors. For example, the shrimp’s size and if they are deshelled or contain the shell can affect their shelf life.

Raw deshelled shrimp will last in the refrigerator for 1-2 days will raw shell-on shrimp have a shelf life of 2-3 days.

Cooked shrimp have a life span of 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Additionally, cooked or raw shrimp can last 2-3 months in the freezer as long as they are stored properly.

Remember to store your shrimp in an airtight container before storing them.

Do not overcrowd the container with shrimp, or it will speed up the spoiling process.

How Do Shrimp Go Bad?

Essentially shrimp goes bad when it sits at room temperature between temperatures of 40°F-140°F for more than 2 hours.

Bacteria begin to multiply rapidly inside the shrimp’s flesh, and the shrimp start to deteriorate.

The shrimp’s body will separate from its shell, marking the beginning of the decomposition process.

Yes, bacteria is on seafood when it is harvested. However, these are relatively minimal amounts of bacteria.

As the shrimp are handled, bacteria start to gradually multiply, leading to spoilage.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Shrimp?

Are you thinking of eating bad shrimp? Save your stomach the heartbreak.

Eating just one bad shrimp can rumble your stomach the way a washer reverberates when it’s washing your clothes.

Shrimp consume larvae. Specifically, their diet includes a type of miniature baby roundworms. In addition to this, there are minuscule amounts of bacteria in the shrimp’s body and flesh.

Once eaten, neurotoxins in the bad shrimp can be poisonous for your gastrointestinal tract and lead to diarrhea and

When ingested, the neurotoxins present in these parasites can poison the gastrointestinal tract causing either diarrhea or violent vomiting.

You may also experience nausea, cramps or abdominal pain, headaches, or bloody stools.

Food poisoning symptoms associated with shellfish will usually present themselves within 4-48 hours.

Ultimately, eating bad shrimp is not worth it. While I understand shrimp are not cheap, you will wish you would have thrown those bad shrimp away once you have food poisoning.

What does spoiled raw shrimp look like?
What does spoiled raw shrimp look like?

How To Tell If Shrimp Is Bad

Just like salmon, shrimp can spoil in no time. Within a few short hours, your shrimp could spoil.

This is why you must thoroughly inspect the shrimp before cooking them.


The nose test is one of the best indicators of spoiled shrimp. If your shrimp has failed to pass the nose test, do not verify the shrimp are spoiled by eating them.

Shrimp should not have a strong smell. Nor should shrimp have a slightly salty odor or a potent fishy aroma. It is best to discard these shrimp, as they could be riddled with bacteria.

More importantly, if your shrimp has an aroma that’s reminiscent of bleach or ammonia, throw them in the trash.

This is the most obvious sign that the shrimp are a bacteria house.


Mushy shrimp are an absolute no. Raw shrimp should always feel firm to the touch. If the shrimp still have the shell on, the shell should not be broken.

If the shrimp’s shells are broken and soggy or if the shrimp has a slimy texture, throw the shrimp in the trash and wash your hands with warm water and soap really well.

Visual Cues

The last way to tell if shrimp are bad is to use your eyes. Good shell-on shrimp have shells that are translucent and free of any color.

The shrimp should have a white or pink slightly peach color.

On the other hand, bad shrimp will have black spots on their tails. This is a clear indicator that the shrimp are starting to age and deteriorate.

If the shrimp’s head is still attached, look at the shrimp’s eyes. If the shrimp’s eyes are glossy and moist, the shrimp is fresh.

However, if the shrimp’s eyes are dry, shrunken, or they do not have eyes, the shrimp may be old and should not be consumed.

Best by Date or Sell by Date

Unfortunately, your senses cannot pick up some forms of bacteria. So it is best not to allow your senses to be the only determiner of whether your shrimp are good or bad.

This is where the best-by or sell-by date comes in handy. These dates will tell you if the shrimp are still safe to consume.

Do not consume the shrimp if more than 4 days have passed since the sell-by or use-by date expired.

It’s best to discard them and pull out that BBQ meatloaf you made for dinner last night.

How To Tell If Frozen Shrimp Are Bad

Unfortunately, telling if frozen shrimp are bad is like telling the difference between periwinkle and ultramarine.

You must defrost the shrimp to tell if they are bad. Once thawed, you can use your senses and the sell-by date to determine if the shrimp is good.

If there are white patches of ice crystals on the shrimp, the shrimp are freezer-burned.

Freezer burn can occur when shrimp are defrosted and refrozen or when they are exposed to air.

While freezer-burned shrimp won’t necessarily give you food poisoning, the shrimp may not be as delicious as you’d hoped they’d be.

Final Thoughts

Before you place the shrimp into a searing hot cast-iron skillet, you must inspect its appearance and odor.

If your shrimp are slimy and have a foul odor, they are bad. If the shrimp are not white, slightly opaque, or pink, discard them immediately.

How can you tell if raw shrimp has gone bad?

Raw shrimp that is bad will have a fishy smell to it or the scent of ammonia. Both are indicators that your shrimp isn't good and therefore not safe to eat. Fresh shrimp that is shelled or unshelled shouldn't have much of a smell at all besides a little salty like saltwater.

How can you tell if thawed shrimp is bad?

Signs to look out for are freezer burn on shrimp, torn or opened packaging and frozen shrimp that are bendable. Do not buy or use frozen shrimp if you notice any of these signs. Also, if you notice that the "use by" date on the packaging of your frozen shrimp has expired, discard the package and do not use.

When should you throw out raw shrimp?

Some shrimp packaging may have a "Best-By" or "Use-By" date, which indicates the packagers' estimate of when the product will be of best quality. Shrimp may last beyond that date for two days, but if you're unsure check the texture and smell. If the shrimp is slimy or smells like ammonia, it's best to toss it.