How Long Do Oysters Live After Shucking?

Oysters are a delicacy that many people enjoy in several ways, including raw. To eat the oyster raw, you have to shuck it to expose the meat, but do oysters live through this process, and if so, how long do they live after being shucked?

Once an oyster has been shucked, it can live for up to 7 days if it is stored correctly in the fridge. Once the oyster has reached day 7, it will begin to die, if it hasn’t already, and the meat, flavor, and quality of the oyster will start to deteriorate fast.

This article will help you understand the oysters you eat and how to ensure you are safe and prepare the oysters correctly if you want to consume them at home, so keep reading!

How Long Do Oysters Live After Being Shucked?

Oysters are a delicacy and are considered a luxury food meant for special occasions. Oysters have a lovely delicate, fresh flavor when prepared correctly, making them a favorite food for many people.

Shucking an oyster is one method of preparing it for serving. You open the oyster with a knife, taking off one side of the shell. Once the oyster has been shucked, it’s now exposed to the elements and can begin to degrade the longer it’s left in this condition, but does the oyster live after being shucked?  

An oyster that has been shucked has a shelf-life of 5 to 7 days; during this time, the oyster is still alive if stored correctly. Once the oyster has reached day 7 after being shucked, it will begin to die and is no longer considered safe to eat.

This is why buying fresh and unopened oysters is important if you want to have them at home. This will ensure the oysters are fresh and will store better for longer, giving you a good time frame to eat them all.

Are Oysters Alive When You Eat Them?

So, once an oyster has been shucked, it’s still alive for quite some time, but does this mean the oyster is alive when you eat it? This will depend on how you prepare and eat the oyster. If you are adding the oyster to a pan and are cooking them in a sauce, then the oyster will not be alive when you eat it.

However, if you are eating the oyster raw or uncooked after it’s freshly shucked, then you will be eating a live oyster. It’s important that the oyster is alive when you eat it to ensure that it’s as fresh as possible to avoid food poisoning. So, raw oysters are alive when you eat them.

How To Tell If An Oyster Is Dead Before Shucking?

When preparing oysters for human consumption, you must ensure they are as fresh as possible to avoid getting sick from eating them. Identifying if the oyster is dead before you suck it is important to help keep everyone healthy and safe.

The oysters that are dead before you shuck them should be discarded as they are unsafe to eat. These oysters are dangerous as you don’t know how long the oyster has been dead, so there could be a large growth of harmful bacteria in the oyster that is unsafe for human consumption.

You can use multiple ways to identify if an oyster is dead before you shuck it. Let’s go through them to ensure you and your guests are safe eating the oysters you prepare.

The Oyster Is Open

The first indication that an oyster is dead before shucking is if the oyster is open. When an oyster dies, all its muscles relax, including the abductor muscle, which holds its shell closed. So, when this muscle relaxes, the shell will open, indicating that the oyster has died.

If you see an open oyster among the oysters you have purchased, you need to discard it as it’s not safe to eat and can lead to some unpleasant side effects for the person who does eat it.

The Oyster Is Dry

While looking through your freshly purchased bag of oysters to find any open ones to discard, you should also look for those that are drier than the others. If an oyster is dry, this means it’s injured, weak, or possibly dying.

This oyster is unhealthy and could be suffering from an overgrowth of bacteria inside it, which is not safe to eat. If you find a dry oyster in your bag, throw it away before preparing the others for serving.

The Oyster Has A Bad Smell

Another excellent way to tell if an oyster is dead before shucking it is by the smell of the oyster. An oyster will have a foul smell when it’s dead and has started decaying. So, you should smell all your oysters before you shuck them to ensure they don’t smell bad.

If you find an oyster that smells bad or different from the others in the bag, discard it as it could be dead or dying and is not safe to eat.

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Can You Eat A Dead Oyster?

When you find a dead oyster in your bag of oysters, it might seem like a waste to throw it away as oysters can be expensive, but is it safe to eat a dead oyster? This depends on how long the oyster has been dead and how it has been stored.

Frozen oysters are dead, but they can still be eaten as they were stored at freezing temperatures, which stopped bacteria growth and the deterioration of the oyster meat. Alternatively, if the oyster has only recently died from being shucked, it’s still safe to eat it.

However, if you buy your oysters fresh, it’s not safe to eat a dead oyster that you find in your bag, as you don’t know how long the oyster has been dead. The oyster could have died on your way home or been dead for a few days already.

In this scenario, it’s safer to throw the dead oyster away as the oyster could have a large growth of bacteria inside it which can make you seriously ill.


Oysters are a luxury food that many people only eat on special occasions, but not many oyster lovers know that the raw oysters they enjoy are alive when they are eaten. The oysters can live for up to 7 days after being shucked if kept in cold temperatures.

So, if you shuck too many oysters and can’t eat them all today, store them in your fridge in an airtight container and enjoy them the next day, as they will still be fresh and delicious!