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Posted in Food Safety on March 31, 2022
How long crab meat can stay fresh in the fridge depends on whether it is cooked and how you store it. Cooked crab meat tends to go bad very quickly if it isn’t stored correctly. Uncooked crab meat should be used within three to four days of purchase. Then once it is cooked, it will last another three to five days in the refrigerator when properly stored.
To maximize the quality and the shelf life of cooked crab, never leave it at room temperature for longer than necessary. The maximum amount of time it can sit outside the refrigerator is two hours. Store it in its original packaging, a shallow airtight container, or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Then place it in the coldest part of the fridge, usually the bottom, as the cold air sinks. To further extend its shelf life, you may freeze crab indefinitely. However, it will only be at its best quality if used within two to three months. When storing in the freezer, use a covered airtight container, a heavy-duty freezer bag, or wrap it tightly in freezer wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil.
The best way to thaw frozen crab is to place it in the refrigerator and leave it overnight in an airtight container. If you need the crab thawed in a hurry, put it in a sealed plastic bag under cold running water or submerge it in a sink or bowl full of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the crab is defrosted. Once thawed, the crab should be cooked or consumed immediately.
The first thing you may notice is the smell. Fresh raw crab will either not smell or will have a faintly sweet odor. If crab has a strong or sour smell, it is no longer safe to eat. You can also inspect the surface of the crab for mold or discoloration. Any crab meat with grey or blue hues should be avoided. Raw crab meat should be pure white with a bright red rind. If the meat is frozen, the meat from the body of a crab should be brown-colored, and crab leg meat should be white.
Additionally, a slimy texture to the meat can signify that it has expired. That means bacteria have started to break down the flesh. If the crab otherwise looks fine, but the taste is off, still throw it out. Tasting the crab to see if it is spoiled should be a last resort, although a small amount is unlikely to harm you.
If you eat crab meat that has been stored incorrectly or kept for too long, it can give you food poisoning. It is considered less risky than some other kinds of seafood, but it is still possible to get very sick. Food poisoning can range in severity, but in most cases, it will cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. In extremely rare cases, it can be fatal. As a result, it is best to avoid crab if there is a possibility that it has gone bad.