How Long Can Tuna Sit Out And How To Tell When It Gets Spoiled?

This is favorite and versatile seafood of most people and they love to eat in a salad, sandwiches, cooked, etc.

After you’ve finished your meal, you may be wondering – how long can tuna sit out?

Like all seafood, tuna is perishable, so requires proper storage. Check out it’s best to place it in the freezer, fridge, or on the counter. Keep your tuna fresh as long as possible.

How Long Does Tuna Last Out Of The Fridge?

The life of tuna outside the fridge isn’t long. The room temperature greatly affects the life and freshness of tuna. Also, its shelf life depends on its condition.

Raw Tuna

Raw tuna remains fresh for an hour at room temperature. If you have accidentally left your tuna outside the fridge for more than two hours, unfortunately, you should throw it away.
It is not safe to eat anymore and you shouldn’t risk it. You can risk food poisoning which can be very severe.

tuna meal

Cooked Tuna

Cooked tuna has an extended life when compared to raw tuna. You can leave it outside the fridge for more than two hours.

Canned Tuna

And there is canned tuna, which has a shelf life of two years and remains fresh for a long time. However, when you open the can once, it has a shorter lifespan – you should leave it at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. People usually use canned tuna for tuna salad so up to 2 hours is the rule for tuna salad, too.

tuna salad

In any case, it is best not to leave your tunas outside the fridge. It will remain fresh and last longer if stored properly. Also, in hot conditions the lifespan is shorter, so don’t leave any kind of tuna outside for more than an hour.

What Happens If You Leave Tuna at Room Temperature?

Avoid leaving tuna at room temperature, because bacteria will quickly start to spread throughout the fish. If you leave tuna above 40 °F, the rate at which bacteria breed massively increases.

Plus, if the temperature is above 90°F, you’ll have an hour to place the tuna in the fridge.

food bacteria

Warm temperatures encourage bacteria growth which will ruin your food very quickly. In temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, bacteria thrive. So after two hours, bacteria amounts become dangerous.

The perishability of tuna is high, so don’t leave it outside the fridge.

What Temperature Is Safe For Tuna?

As you can conclude, low temperatures are required to remain tuna fresh. Bacteria growth and spread are slowed down by low temperatures. According to USDA, the harmful bacteria will grow in the temperature zone (so-called Danger Zone) between 40 °F and 140 °F (4.4 °C to 60 °C). The safe food zone (Cold food zone) is between 32 °F to 40 °F.


How To Tell If Tuna Has Spoiled?

It is a bit hard to say because tuna can smell fine and look okay but still be unsafe to eat. Foodborne bacteria (like Salmonella) aren’t visible to the human eye. It’s best to use time as a guideline. But there are some other freshness tests you can try.

The first thing you should check it’s its smell. If there is a strong, unpleasant smell, you probably deal with moldy tuna. As the decay progresses, you’ll notice white flecks appearing on its surface. Also, its texture can change.

To check whether tuna is OK to eat, place it on the counter and wait for 10 minutes. If your tuna smells strongly fishy or sour, it shouldn’t be eaten.
Both raw and cooked tuna will have an awful smell if they have gone bad. If the color becomes dull or dark or its texture is mushy, you should discard it.

Why Does Tuna Fish Spoil So Soon?

Meat is perishable food that requires careful handling. Seafood such as tuna fish is home to many microorganisms that can easily cause food poisoning. You should store your tuna properly to avoid bacteria growth and food spoilage as long as you can.

How Long Can Tuna Stay In The Fridge?

After you store tuna in the fridge, bacteria will still spread, but at a very slow pace. When raw tuna is stored in a refrigerator at constant temperatures of 39 °F and below, it will stay fresh for up to two days.


When it comes to cooked tuna, it will last for up to five days.

Canned tuna also last 3 to 5 days after it is opened (mixed in a salad or by itself). It’s best to place the tuna salad in the fridge just after eating.

Can You Freeze Tuna?

It is a good idea if you aren’t going to use it in a few days. Both fresh tuna and cooked tuna can be frozen while tuna salad (canned tuna) doesn’t freeze well.

To freeze tuna, place it in an airtight container and make sure it’s properly sealed. Also, you can freeze the tuna in small portions and defrost just the amount you’re going to eat.

Label and date the airtight container and use the tuna within 3 months of freezing. Although it can last longer, it will lose some of its taste.
When you want to thaw it, place it in the fridge, don’t defrost it at room temperature. Or it will become unsafe to eat.

Tips For Storing Tuna

  • Place it in an airtight container – that will minimalize the bacterial spread. Also, that will help the tuna to last longer and eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Don’t thaw it at room temperature or in the microwave.

storing fish

  • Store raw and cooked tuna in separate containers.
  • Always wash hands with soap and warm water before handling tuna.
  • Wash utensils, chopping boards, countertops and plates with hot water and detergent before handling tuna.

To Wrap It Up

As perishable food, tuna shouldn’t be left at room temperature. Therefore, handling tuna safely is important if you want to avoid foodborne illness and some very unpleasant symptoms. Reduce the chance of food poisoning by following our simple guidelines.

Ivana is always desirable for adventures so she was working in restaurants on the Croatian coast, participated in Caffe barista tournaments, led a gardening business, and more. She is a healthy food enthusiast, prefers vegetarianism, and practices yoga. In her free time, she likes to study ancient Buddhist scriptures as well as psychology.