How To Tell If Tuna Salad Has Gone Bad

A classic lunchtime snack or meal, tuna salad is an economical and versatile option for many. While often made with mayonnaise, you can easily swap in Greek yogurt, hummus, or avocado instead, and add in your choice of crunchy vegetables like celery and onions. You can even take your tuna salad up a notch by adding in spices like dill or lemon pepper. You can enjoy it in a sandwich, in a lettuce wrap, or even on its own. It's no wonder that many people often make a large batch of it at a time.

As with any leftover foods, a concern is how to tell when the food has spoiled. According to the USDA, tuna salad, assuming it has been stored properly in the fridge at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, is good for 3 to 5 days before it starts to spoil. Eating spoiled tuna salad can lead to food poisoning, with symptoms that can include vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea (via Prepared Cooks), so knowing the signs of spoilage is quite important.

Signs that your tuna salad has spoiled

One way to tell if your tuna salad has spoiled is to look for changes in appearance. If you see any signs of mold, or any green, brown, or dark spots on your tuna salad, you should toss it out without even tasting it. Another sign is a foul smell. Tuna fish has a fairly strong smell to begin with, so if you smell something off, it's best to toss it out rather than take the risk. Even if there's no discoloration or off smell, if your tuna salad has been sitting in the fridge for more than 5 days, you should toss it out.

Tuna salad doesn't freeze well, so it's best to only make what you can consume in a few days. It's also important to refrigerate any leftover tuna salad promptly. Don't let it sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour when it's really hot out), per the USDA. Using an airtight container will keep your tuna salad fresher for longer, and also won't let smells in or out (via The US Kitchen). You should also store the tuna salad in the coldest part of your fridge, and not in the door. Tuna salad is fantastic as a snack or meal. Just don't take any chances with tuna salad that has gone bad.