A bottle of fish sauce

Can Fish Sauce Make You Sick? (What to Be Aware Of)

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Fish sauce is a very typical ingredient in most Asian dishes. A lot of people are often worried about the health effects of fish sauce. Even if you keep it stored for a few days, it may go bad after some time. So, is there really something you need to be aware of? If you are worried about whether fish sauce can make you sick, then continue reading this article. 

Actually, fish sauce is manufactured in a way that it can go off very rarely. The amount of salt added in it or even its pH is maintained in a way that it can hardly go bad.

So, if your fish sauce has been sitting at the counter for years now, it’s time you use it with caution. Besides, you should know how to preserve it, store it in the refrigerator, or even the health concerns associated with stale fish sauce. Henceforth, to have a clear overview of all these issues, please read the entire article. 

Very Old Fish Sauce Could Make You Sick 

It is wise not to use old fish sauce when it starts to look dull or give out a bad smell. But it is rare for that to happen as fish sauce doesn’t spoil easily. 

Actually, salt, vinegar, sugar, oil, etc., are natural preservatives. They have been used in many household dishes as preservatives from ancient times. For example, when you make pickles, vinegar and salt are used in ample amounts to keep it fresh and lively for as long as you want to!

Now, fish sauce, unlike other spices, takes a very long time to start to rot. As per the manufacturing date, usually, it takes about three years for fish sauce to give off; or it might take longer than that! When the fish sauce becomes old, it loses its bright color and becomes dull and darker. Also, there is a very peculiar lousy odor coming from it!

It is only then you have to understand the fish sauce isn’t in good shape. However, when stored properly, it takes much longer for fish sauce to get old in most cases. It is not a good choice to consume this old rotten fish sauce. The organisms growing in the sauce can make you sick. You may suffer from gastroenteritis, gastritis, fever, etc. 

To be fair, whenever you notice any moldy overgrowth, just discard the sauce right away. You can buy a new one for use. Or you can make your own fish sauce with vinegar. If you don’t have enough sea salt, you can try out this recipe of fish sauce in the video below. 

How Can You Tell If The Fish Sauce Has Gone Bad?

It is not very difficult to distinguish a lousy fish sauce from a fresh one. The changes in its color and odor say it all. The sauce starts to turn darker and gives off a very peculiar unpleasant smell.

Besides, there may be some moldy overgrowth on the bottle or the cap of the sauce. Some crystals may settle at the bottom. The crystals are mostly the sea salt crystals that you use for preserving the sauce. When it gets old, the salts start to separate by crystallization. This salt is actually an essential ingredient in fermentation.

In addition, due to bacterial growth, it gives off a very unpleasant smell. Usually, fish sauce gives a very pungent smell, but the smell is very different and easily recognizable when it rots. You can notice changes in its consistency as well. It can become unnecessarily runny or thicken unevenly.

When prepared at home, the whole fermentation process takes about six months to a year. By this time, the action of sea salt can destroy even the deadliest bacteria. Sea salt has antibacterial properties also. So, naturally, it is very rare for fish sauce to rot. If you maintain this properly with care, your fish sauce will never rot.

How To Store Fish Sauce For The Longest Shelf Life? 

Properly storing fish sauce can increase the longevity of your favorite condiment! Experts advise storing in a cool and dry place away from heat and excessive moisture in most cases.

Now, storage depends on two factors. Firstly, if you have opened the bottle already, always keep the bottle’s mouth tightly shut or sealed. An opened bottle, if not stored correctly, can last only up to a few weeks. If not maintained adequately, you will observe some whitish or greenish fungus growing over the top in a few days!

So, if you have already opened it, store it at room temperatures (25 degrees Celsius, preferably). Some experts suggest keeping it in refrigerators until you can use it again. However, storing in the fridge can have its own drawbacks.

On the other hand, keep it away from heat and light if you haven’t opened the bottle yet. Usually, the fish sauce comes in bottles made of glass. So, please keep it in a place where it can be kept safe from accidental falls.

Does Fish Sauce Need To Get Refrigerated?

Fish sauce in the refrigerator

There are controversial opinions regarding whether you should store the fish sauce in the fridge or just keep it in your pantry lying around. Some have given positive reviews about storing it in the fridge. However, some others have complained about a deterioration in its quality after storing in the fridge.

Basically, storing in the fridge can hamper the fermenting enzymes in the sauce. There is some protein hydrolyzing enzymes in it that help the actual fermentation process. It requires an optimum temperature to work the best. Storing in refrigerators can interfere with the preserving process.

However, if you have already used it for a while, storing it in refrigerators can help you prevent the overgrowth of other bacteria and molds. It can remain as fresh as new in your fridge for as long as six months to a year, if not in regular use! 

Some fish sauces even come in packages that require storage in refrigerators. Basically, it depends on the ingredients used during manufacturing. If the list of ingredients contains any quickly perishable substance, it is always best to store it in the fridge.

Be Aware Of Fish Sauce Allergy 

It is not unlikely that people who are allergic to fish can develop dangerous allergic reactions after consuming fish sauce. So, be careful when you read labels and make sure it doesn’t contain any ingredient you can be allergic to.

An allergic reaction may present with mild symptoms like redness of the face, mild cough, skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal pain or cramps, cold, etc. Or it may be as deadly as anaphylactic reactions

When anaphylaxis develops, a person presents with an inability to breathe as the respiratory pathways become constricted. If you develop such conditions, you must go to the emergency as soon as possible! If not treated immediately, it can lead to death!

Fish sauce allergy is not very rare. So, know your allergies first and always read the labels of whatever food you are consuming. In fact, fish sauce can be present as an ingredient in other foodstuffs as well. So, it is important that you double-check all ingredients always. However, a shot of adrenaline and steroid will save your life instantly. 

Although being sensitive and being allergic can mean two totally different things! If you are sensitive to fish oil, chances are you will only develop a bad headache or nausea and vomiting. Any other symptoms mentioned above mark the beginning of an anaphylactic reaction. If you have ever been allergic to fish, it is best to keep the fish sauce at bay!

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