Skip to Content

How Long Do Oysters Last? Does it Go Bad?

Oysters are a delicacy enjoyed by many around the world.

They can be prepared in many different ways, from being served on the half shell to being used in stews, soups, and other dishes.

However, oysters are also known for their short shelf life.

So, how long do oysters last, and does it go bad?

Oysters can last up to two weeks if they are alive and kept in a cool environment. Once they are shucked, they should be consumed immediately or within 24 hours. If the oysters have a bad odor, are discolored, or have a dry texture, they should not be consumed.

In this article, we’ll explore the factors that affect how long oysters last, the proper ways to store them, and how to tell if they have gone bad.

We’ll also discuss some tips for consuming oysters safely.

What are Oysters?

Oysters are a type of mollusk that are found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. They have a hard, rough shell that they close to protect themselves from predators.

Oysters are usually served raw on the half shell, but they can also be cooked in a variety of ways. They are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are low in calories.

How Long Do Oysters Last?

The shelf life of oysters depends on several factors, including whether they are alive or shucked, how they are stored, and how long they have been stored.

Live oysters can last up to two weeks, but they need to be kept in a cool environment with plenty of air circulation. They should not be placed in a sealed container or submerged in water, as this can suffocate them.

Once oysters are shucked, they need to be consumed immediately or within 24 hours. This is because shucking makes the oyster more susceptible to bacteria growth and contamination.

How to Store Oysters

Proper storage is essential to keeping oysters fresh and safe to consume. Here are some tips for storing oysters:

  • Keep them alive: If you plan on keeping oysters for more than a day, purchase live oysters and keep them on ice in an open container. Make sure they are not submerged in water, and that they have plenty of air circulation.
  • Store in the refrigerator: If you have shucked oysters, store them in a covered container in the refrigerator at 40°F or below. They should be placed on ice in a shallow pan or bowl to catch any drips.
  • Don’t freeze oysters: Oysters should not be frozen, as this can damage their texture and flavor.
  • Label the container: Be sure to label the container with the date the oysters were shucked or purchased, so you know how long they have been stored.

How to Tell if Oysters Have Gone Bad

It’s important to check your oysters before consuming them, to ensure that they haven’t gone bad. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Bad odor: If the oysters have a strong, unpleasant odor, they may have gone bad.
  • Discoloration: If the oysters are discolored, or have a gray or brown appearance, they may be spoiled.
  • Dry texture: If the oysters have a dry texture, they may be old and have lost their moisture.
  • Open shells: If the oysters’ shells are open, tap the shell lightly. If the shell doesn’t close, the oyster is dead and should be discarded.

Tips for Consuming Oysters Safely

Oysters can be consumed safely if they are handled and prepared correctly. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Buy from a reputable source: Make sure you purchase oysters from a reputable dealer who follows proper handling and storage procedures.
  • Keep them cold: When transporting oysters, keep them on ice in a cooler or insulated container.
  • Prepare them properly: When consuming raw oysters on the half shell, make sure they are alive and shucked immediately before serving. Discard any oysters with open shells or those that do not close when tapped.
  • Cook oysters thoroughly: If you prefer cooked oysters, make sure they are cooked thoroughly, until the flesh is firm and opaque.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly before handling oysters, and keep any utensils or equipment used for oyster preparation clean and sanitary.


In conclusion, oysters can last up to two weeks if they are alive and stored properly. Shucked oysters should be consumed immediately or within 24 hours.

The proper storage of oysters is essential to keeping them fresh and safe to consume. They should be kept on ice, refrigerated, and labeled with the date they were shucked or purchased.

It’s important to check oysters for signs of spoilage before consuming them, including bad odors, discoloration, and a dry texture.

With these tips, you can enjoy oysters safely and appreciate their unique taste and nutritional benefits.

Website | + posts

Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.