How to Tell If Shrimp Are Bad

By Jaimie Zinski

Shrimp is a versatile member of the undersea kingdom that will add a distinct flavor and texture to several dishes, from pasta salads to gumbo. Unfortunately shrimp that has gone bad will harbor several types of bacteria that lead to food poisoning, including V. cholerae, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. There are several tell-tale signs that the shrimp in your kitchen is past it's prime and ready for the trash.

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Avoid shrimp that has a fishy smell.

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Step 1

Open the package of shrimp and take a smell. Shrimp that is fresh and consumable will have a very light, salty scent. Shrimp that is ready for the trash will have a rancid, strong scent much like ammonia.

Step 2

Look at the appearance of the shrimp. Shrimp that has gone bad will have a slimy appearance and may even have pieces breaking off. The head and shell of shrimp that is rotten will also have a strange discoloration and will not appear white or pink.

Step 3

Look at the shrimp's eyes. The eyes of fresh shrimp will be bright, shiny and sticking outside of the body. The eyes of bad shrimp will appear sunken in or may even be completely missing.

Step 4

Check the date "use-by" or "sell-by" date on the shrimp's package. If it is past this date, do not take a chance and throw out the shrimp. Fresh shrimp that has been in the refrigerator for longer than three days should also be discarded.