Is It Dangerous To Eat Expired Crab Meat?

Fresh crab meat is the star of so many delicious seafood recipes. It would be difficult to fathom fresh crab ceviche or corn and crab chowder without this salty, tender crustacean. However, it's easy to plan to make one of these dishes and not get around to it during a busy work week, leaving you with expired crab meat. Sacre bleu! Crab meat is expensive, and it may have you wondering if it is dangerous to go ahead and eat. But don't wonder because the simple answer is yes, it is dangerous. 

You need to cut your losses and toss it. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, fresh crab meat has a short shelf life and should be cooked or stored in the freezer within one to two days of purchasing. What can happen if you do eat it? Consuming expired crab meat can do more than just taste bad. It can make you downright sick with food poisoning giving you a host of symptoms that range from stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration — all very unpleasant. So, how can you ensure your crab meat is safe to eat?

Use your nose

Once you've made your favorite crab cakes or pasta dish, any leftovers should be kept in the refrigerator and eaten within four days. If you do freeze your crab meat, you will want to freeze it in its shell to preserve its texture. You can also freeze food items with crab meat in them. The other ingredients will help ensure it doesn't become stringy. Still, you want use it within three to eight months before the quality starts to decline. 

How can you tell if your crab is past its prime? Use your senses, starting with your nose. The smell of fresh crab should be sweet; if it has a pungent, sour, or fishy smell, it's best to get rid of it. Look for discoloration. If it has a grey or blue color, it should be thrown out. Additionally, if you see mold or the meat is slimy to the touch, these are indicators that it has gone bad.