Tuna Shelf Life: How Long Does Tuna Last?

What is the average shelf life of tuna? How long does tuna last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store tuna to increase its shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below:

Shelf Life of Tuna

FreshN/A1-2 Days2-3 Months
CookedN/A3-4 Days2-3 Months
Canned (unopened)3-5 Years1-2 Days3-4 Months
Canned (opened)N/A3-4 Days2-3 Months

The answer to the question “how long can tuna last” depends on the conditions in which it is stored. This is true for all kinds of meat.

There are two types of tuna, raw and canned. Raw tuna can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days if stored properly while it lasts for 2-3 months in the freezer. However, if the packaging stays unopened, the shelf life increases. Compared to raw tuna, canned tuna can be stored for three years, and if kept in a dry place it can even be stored for 4-5 years.

At room temperature tuna cannot be left out for more than two hours as at room temperature its bacteria grow rapidly.

Purchasing Of Tuna:

Fresh tuna is expensive as compared to other fish. So, before buying it, you should check if it is fresh. If you are buying a fresh tuna or already cut steaks of tuna, you should look for shiny and almost translucent meat. Translucent meat is an indication freshness. Other things to keep in mind are that the meat should not be flaky. Old raw tuna gets flaky as the muscle starts separating from meat. At this point, the color of old cut tuna also changes to brown. Fresh tuna has a fresh sea odor, not an overly fishy odor.  

As for canned tuna, you should look for some particular things on the label to know if the tuna is healthy. Make sure it was caught by troll or pole and line method. It should not contain Bisphenol-A (BPA).

Storing Tuna:

The bacteria in tuna proliferates between 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Hence, it should be stored immediately. Keeping it in a freezer increases its shelf life by 100 percent as compared to keeping it in the fridge.

Moreover, if the tuna is wrapped in plastic wrap the shelf life can be increased considerably. If raw tuna is not used within two days of purchase, you should wrap it in foil, make it airtight and keep it at a temperature less than -10 degrees centigrade.  

The canned tuna should be kept in a cool, dry place and off the floor to prevent rusting and leakage.

Handling Tuna:

To use the tuna in cooking it should be thawed preferably by putting in the fridge overnight but if you want to thaw it quickly, you can do so by putting in cold water prior to cooking.

While cooking, the tuna can still be contaminated as at room temperature bacteria increases rapidly. So, make sure the utensils being used are cleaned thoroughly, and the tuna is adequately cooked to kill all the bacteria.

Cooking Tuna:

Usually, tuna is served as steaks. The steaks are either grilled on the barbecue stands or smoked. The steaks are made by rubbing them with salt, black pepper, ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper and then cooking it in foil.

The side ingredients to be served with tuna depend on you; it can be basil and parsley leaves that are slightly sautéed or mashed potatoes. Some grilled vegetables also make a good side dish.