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How Long Does Imitation Crab Last? Does Imitation Crab Go Bad?

Imitation crab is an inexpensive and high-calorie alternative to the real thing.

This food, often used in sushi, is made from pollack, surimi, or other fish.

It can be found in many grocery stores, but how long does it last, and how do you store it? We will answer these questions for you.

What is Imitation Crab?

what is imitation crab

If you have ever been to a sushi restaurant, you may have ordered imitation crab.

Imitation crab meat is made from either a white fish, such as pollock or surimi (imitation lobster), or plant proteins like soybean.

This type of imitation seafood has to be labeled as “surimi” and not just simply “crabmeat” to identify it properly for the consumer.

Imitation crab meat is considered a processed food because it contains soy protein or surimi, which are still ingredients treated with an industrial process.

It also has added salt and sugar to enhance the flavor of this imitation seafood substitute.

The meat is usually sold in cans or little tubs and sticks that can be eaten on their own without the need to add any other ingredients.

Imitation crab meat is a high-calorie product because it contains so much salt and sugar – one stick of imitation crab meat has around 20 calories.

Due to its processed nature, this type of seafood should not be consumed regularly and should only be used sparingly for specific dishes like sushi rolls or salads.

How to Store Imitation Crab?

how to store imitation crab

Imitation crab meat is a popular and cost-effective seafood alternative, but it also requires special care.

To keep the meat from going bad, you should store your imitation crab in an airtight container or bag.

It’s best to store this food in the refrigerator as it won’t last long at room temperature.

Those who want to take their time and enjoy eating this food for many meals (or snacks) might be interested in freezing it.

Freezing has similar benefits as storing in a fridge: It prevents bacteria growth by killing any microbes that may already be present on the product’s surface.

But freezing can offer some added perks – such as preventing oxidation so that the crab’s flavor is preserved.

To avoid freezer burn, it’s recommended to store in a tightly sealed container or wrap with cling film.

How Long Does Imitation Crab Last?

how long does imitation crab last

Imitation crab is commonly served in sushi restaurants as a cheaper alternative to real crab.

It is made from processed fish and has a similar texture to real crab meat, but it lacks the latter’s flavor.

The shelf life of imitation crab varies depending on whether or not they are vacuum sealed for freshness.

The vacuum-sealed packages can last up to a year if stored in the freezer.

Unsealed imitation crab lasts between 4 and 5 days when refrigerated.

To properly stored imitation crab, the temperature should be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don’t forget to put the crab in a container or plastic bag with an airtight seal to prevent the flavors from mixing.

If left at room temperature, the shelf life of imitation crab is about 4 hours.

After that point, the imitation crab will become mushy, soft, and not safe to consume.

How to Tell if Imitation Crab is Bad?

how to tell if imitation crab is bad

It may be hard to tell if imitation crab is bad since it doesn’t contain the same ingredient as fresh crab.

Imitation crab meat does not have a delightful, sweet flavor and crunchy texture like a freshly shelled natural lump or backfin crushed blue crabs.

Be sure to read the ingredients on your can or package of crab meat carefully.

To tell if your imitation crab is bad, there are a few tips you can follow to determine freshness:

  • Check for an expiration date on the package. If it has passed this date, don’t eat it.
  • Follow the mentioned tips to know the estimated shelf life of imitation crab.
  • Notice any parts of the meat that have turned solid white? This indicates spoilage and should be discarded immediately.
  • Another tip is to give it a sniff. If the inside smells sour or off, even before opening the package, then toss it out.
  • Take careful note of any signs of mold on the outside.
  • Is there a slimy film covering your crab meat? If so, discard it.

If you are not sure if imitation crab is bad or spoiled, ask someone who knows more about this ingredient to help you out.

This will avoid any problems with food poisoning and wasting money on something that may be inedible.

When in doubt, throw it out.

What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Imitation Crab?

what happens if you eat spoiled imitation crab

The reason people eat imitation crab is that they don’t know the difference.

They are often marketed as “imitation lump crab meat,” and as a result, many think it’s real seafood.

Sometimes the imitation crab is used as a filler in processed seafood, like tuna salad.

If you eat spoiled imitation crab or any other type of fish that’s gone bad, your stomach will probably get upset and might make you feel nauseous for several hours.

Some people experience vomiting, while others have diarrhea symptoms.

You should also contact your doctor if nausea lasts longer than 24 hours or turns into fever accompanied by other symptoms.

Your body will react differently depending on the type of bacteria that caused the spoilage and how much was consumed.

The takeaway: always check the expiration date on refrigerated food products before eating them to avoid getting sick.


In conclusion, imitation crab is typically made from pollock or surimi, which are readily available on the market and can be stored in your fridge for a long period.

You have to cook imitation crab before consuming it, but make sure you follow the instructions on the package.

We hope this article has helped answer your questions about imitation crab.

If you have any other queries, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Yield: 1 Serving

How Long Does Imitation Crab Last? Does Imitation Crab Go Bad?

how long does imitation crab last
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Imitation crab
  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags
  • Labels and markers


  1. Read the guide thoroughly to learn how long it lasts.
  2. Label your container with the content and date and keep track of how much you're using!
  3. Make sure to store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (pantry or fridge).
  4. If frozen, thaw in the fridge before use. Always check for signs of spoilage before using.

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