Why Is My Salmon Yellow? (Fully Explained)

Are you wondering why your salmon has turned yellow?

It can be a cause for concern, but fear not! There are several reasons why this might happen, and we’re here to help you understand them.

In this article, we’ll explore the different factors that can contribute to the yellowing of salmon, including freezer burn, spoilage, and improper storage.

We’ll also provide tips on how to determine if your salmon has gone bad and what to do if it has.

So, let’s dive in and learn more about why your salmon might be turning yellow.

Why Is My Salmon Yellow?

The yellowing of salmon can be a result of several factors, including freezer burn, spoilage, and improper storage.

Freezer burn occurs when the meat is exposed to air in the freezer and oxidizes. This can happen when fish is not properly stored or sealed. Freezing fish with a water glaze or vacuum-sealed packaging can help prevent freezer burn.

Spoilage is another factor that can cause salmon to turn yellow. Bacterial and enzymatic activity can cause the edges of the fish to spoil first, resulting in white and yellow discoloration. Frozen fish will continue to spoil at a slow rate, even when frozen. Spoilage bacteria are slowed at sub-freezing temperatures, but some remain active to -14 degrees F. Frozen fish held between -10 degrees F and 20 degrees F for long periods of time (6 months to 2 years) will slowly continue to spoil and develop yellow edges.

Improper storage can also contribute to the yellowing of salmon. Leftover salmon that is not stored properly or left at room temperature for too long can go bad and turn yellow.

Freezer Burn: What It Is And How It Affects Salmon

Freezer burn is a common issue that can affect salmon, as well as other frozen foods. It occurs when the surface of the food becomes dehydrated due to exposure to air in the freezer. The telltale signs of freezer burn are whitish splotches or ice crystals on the surface of the fish.

While freezer-burned salmon is safe to eat as long as it has not passed its expiration date, it may not taste as good and can have a dry, chewy texture. The flavor of freezer-burned fish is not as pleasant as that of properly frozen and defrosted fish, ranging from tasteless to having an off-putting aftertaste.

To prevent freezer burn, it is essential to properly store salmon in the freezer. Freezing fish with a water glaze or vacuum-sealed packaging can help prevent freezer burn. It is also important to pay attention to how long the salmon has been in the freezer and to use it before its expiration date.

If you do notice freezer burn on your salmon, you can trim off the discolored and dehydrated parts before cooking. However, if the entire flesh has dark grey patches, it is best to discard the fish.

Spoilage: How To Spot The Signs

It is important to be able to spot the signs of spoilage in salmon to avoid consuming unsafe food. Here are some indicators to look out for:

Visual signs:

– Fresh salmon should have a distinct pink or orange color with shiny, silver skin. If the skin looks dull and lifeless, or if the flesh has faded to gray or has white film on it, it is likely spoiled.

– Dark spots or mold on the flesh are also indications of spoilage. In certain cases, the spots may appear whitish in color.

– The white lines on fresh salmon are a good indicator of its firmness. If these lines have disappeared, it is a sign that the salmon has gone bad.

– If the salmon has its head on, examine the eyes. Fresh salmon should have bright eyes with dark pupils that are slightly bulging. Bad salmon will have dark and discolored eyes.


– While salmon has a mild scent, a fresh one should not have an intensely fishy odor. If the salmon has a strong, pungent fishy odor that smells like ammonia or rotten eggs, it is likely spoiled.


– High-quality salmon should have a firm, bouncy texture. The flesh should not be mushy, slimy, or sticky. If it feels fragile when handled, it is probably spoiled.


– Overly fishy, metallic, or sour-tasting salmon is likely bad and should be thrown out.

It is recommended to use salmon within 1-2 days of the “sell by” date on the packaging or before the “best by” date to ensure its freshness and safety for consumption. If you are unsure about the quality of your salmon, it is best to err on the side of caution and throw it out.

Improper Storage: The Impact On Salmon Color

When salmon is frozen, its color can be impacted by improper storage. Freezing darker fleshed fish like salmon can cause the color to dull, giving it a yellowish appearance. This is because freezing can cause the formation of ice crystals which can lead to a temporary loss of color intensity and make the fish less visually appealing.

Additionally, freezing temperatures that are optimal for quality after thawing (-40 to -60 °C) can cause a substantial loss in perceived color intensity during the frozen state. This conflict between optimal freezing temperatures and visual appearance during the frozen state highlights the importance of proper storage to maintain the quality and color of frozen salmon.

It is important to properly store salmon in order to prevent these color changes. Freezing salmon with a water glaze or vacuum-sealed packaging can help prevent freezer burn and protect the color of the fish. It is also important to store leftover salmon properly in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoilage and discoloration.

How To Determine If Your Salmon Is Safe To Eat

Determining whether your salmon is safe to eat is crucial to avoid foodborne illnesses. Here are some tips to help you determine if your salmon is safe to eat:

1. Check the texture: Fresh salmon should always be firm to the touch. If the salmon feels slimy, milky, or mushy, it is not safe to eat. On the other hand, dry salmon is not of high quality either. To test the firmness of fresh salmon, press it with your fingers. If it bounces back, then it is still fresh. If it stays sunken and dimpled, then you should discard it.

2. Smell it: Fresh salmon should have little to no smell. If you detect any hints of ammonia or anything rancid or sour, discard it immediately.

3. Look it over: Fresh salmon should be reddish when raw and turn pink when cooked. If you notice that the fish has a grey opaque skin, then it has gone bad. Other things to look for are milky residue, dark spots, or mold anywhere on the fish. These are all signs that your salmon has spoiled and should be discarded.

4. Cook it properly: Cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) kills bacteria and parasites that may be present in the fish. If you prefer to eat raw salmon, make sure it has been previously frozen to kill any parasites that may be present.

5. Freeze it properly: Properly freezing salmon can help prevent spoilage and freezer burn. Flash-freeze the fish down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30-48 hours to kill off any parasites present.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your salmon is safe to eat and avoid any potential health risks associated with consuming spoiled or improperly handled fish.

What To Do If Your Salmon Has Gone Bad

If you suspect that your salmon has gone bad, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it away. Eating spoiled salmon can cause food poisoning and other health problems.

If you have cooked salmon that has gone bad, look for signs of discoloration, a slimy film on the surface, or a strong fishy or rancid smell. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the salmon.

If you have raw salmon that has gone bad, check for signs of pale or discolored flesh, a strong fishy smell, or a milky-white residue on the fillet. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the salmon.

To prevent salmon from going bad in the first place, make sure to store it properly. Keep fresh salmon in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F or below and consume it within 1-2 days. Frozen salmon can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months, but make sure to wrap it tightly and use freezer-safe packaging.

When reheating leftover salmon, make sure to heat it to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F to kill any bacteria that may be present. Thaw frozen salmon in the refrigerator or under cold running water, never at room temperature.