10 Costco Seafood Items You Should Never Buy

Fresh fish fillets for sale in seafood store


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Seafood platter. Grilled lobster, shrimps, scallops, langoustines, octopus, squid on white plate.

Fishy Business

Acclaimed for its sprawling aisles and unbeatable bulk deals, Costco has solidified its status as a go-to shopping destination for millions of shoppers. (We love Costco here at Cheapism, too, in case you haven't noticed.) But while many of its products boast quality and value, there are certain seafood items that savvy shoppers say you should steer clear of. 

Due to factors such as seafood sourcing and environmental or health concerns, some seafood items lining Costco's shelves may not be worth buying. Here are 10 Costco seafood items to avoid.

Fresh raw salmon and ingredients for marinade on light grey table, closeup
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

1. Farm-Raised Salmon

Some farm-raised salmon may contain more parasites than its wild-caught counterpart due to the densely populated conditions of fish farms, which can foster a breeding ground of bacteria and disease. There's also the impact of farmed salmon on local ecosystems due to nutrient pollution, large amounts of land and water resources being used, and increased demand for wild-caught fish as feed. 

At Costco, you can find farm-raised salmon in packs of six to eight, but you're better off going with wild-caught salmon. While a bit more expensive, it is typically superior in quality, taste, and boasts a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids. "Farmed salmon don't have the same nutritional profile and are also commonly injected with dye," says one user in a Reddit thread

Close-up on a worker doing quality control at a seafood factory

2. Imported Shrimp

Some of the shrimp that Costco sells is imported from countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and India. But according to a 2015 study by Consumer Reports, shrimp raised in these regions might not meet health and environmental standards. With a staggering 94% of shrimp sold in the U.S. hailing from other countries, concerns over contamination, use of antibiotics, and environmental degradation have been reported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

To ensure you're buying shrimp that have been raised in safe conditions, be sure to check for the country of origin and buy U.S.-made whenever possible. 

Costco's Kirkland Signature Mahi Mahi

3. Kirkland Signature Mahi Mahi

Mahi mahi is a popular choice for seafood lovers due to its fleshy, neutral-tasting meat that can be incorporated into many different dishes. But when it comes to Costco's brand of mahi mahi, Redditors say it does not live up to expectations. "I've never been a fan of their mahi," writes one user, adding, "It was always kind of tough and fishy in my opinion. I quit buying it a few years ago." 

In fact, "[Costco's] bagged frozen fish in general isn't good," one user points out. When it comes to fish, sometimes buying fresh, non-frozen varieties is the better choice.

Trident Seafoods Frozen Fish Sticks
Trident Seafoods

4. Trident Seafoods Fish Sticks

While your kid may beg you to buy fish sticks while shopping at Costco, these frozen fish sticks are covered in a thick, Panko breading that overwhelm the scant and bland fish inside, customers say. As one Redditor points out, "[There was] a lot of breading for the little chunk of fish inside." 

Nutritionally, three sticks offer 12 grams of protein, which isn't great, and they also contain a significant amount of sodium. 

Related: Seafood Savings: 6 Ways To Add Fish to Your Diet Without Busting Your Budget

Orca Bay Keta Salmon Fillets
Orca Bay

5. Orca Bay Keta Salmon Fillets

Not only does this brand sound like you're buying fillets made out of orca meat, they're also "the worst food sold at Costco," according to one Redditor. "It tasted nothing like normal salmon," writes the Redditor, adding, "It was dry, fishy, and just off tasting." 

The user then described how they initially thought they had bought a bad batch, but after doing some research learned that "Keta salmon, also known as chum, is best known for being DOG food in Alaska because people won’t eat it." Well, yikes — maybe save these for Fido? 

Related: Something Fishy: Walmart Shoppers Shocked by Great Value Ingredient Labels

seared tuna plate
Photography By Tonelson/istockphoto

6. Ahi Tuna

Ahi tuna lends itself well to a variety of seafood-inspired dishes like poke and seared tuna steaks. But according to seafood enthusiasts, Costco's ahi tuna might be subpar. 

The 6-ounce individual portions — packaged in a hefty 10-pound pack — initially impress with their deep pink hue and attractive price. But upon closer inspection, customers say the meat is "exceptionally salty," with an off-putting texture and flavor after being seared. One user even likened it to a "processed hunk of ham," while another claimed it "tasted like medicine." 

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Caviar Blinis

7. Caviar From Wild-Caught Sturgeon

Sturgeon — the primary source of high-quality caviar — have faced significant challenges in the wild due to overfishing driven by demand for their eggs. Furthermore, habitat changes — often resulting from human-led pollution in their native waters — have exacerbated their decline in numbers. If you're a fan of these salty priced beads, consider buying farm-raised caviar as a more sustainable choice.

At Costco, you can find all kinds of caviar sold at different price ranges, so be sure to always check for the "sustainably grown" tag to ensure the products were ethically harvested. 

Related: Why Is Caviar So Damn Expensive?

Kirkland Signature Smoked Salmon

8. Kirkland Signature Smoked Salmon

While Costco's own Kirkland brand often boasts high-quality products that give you a great bang for your buck, its smoked salmon does not live up to expectations, Redditors say. "That stuff is so damn salty, [I don't know] how anyone could ever eat more than a single piece," writes one user. 

Others pointed out that the price increase from $19.99 to $23.99 is just not worth it. "The price went up sooo much, I can't justify it anymore," writes another Redditor.

Related: Would You Eat Fake Salmon Even if It’s Cheaper?

Costco's Kirkland Signature Tempura Shrimp

9. Kirkland Signature Tempura Shrimp

According to Redditors, Costco's tempura shrimp is overly breaded and lacks the crispiness of restaurant-quality tempura. "The tempura shrimp is like 90% breading," writes one user, adding, "It's much thicker breading than what you get at a Japanese restaurant, with just a teeny little line of shrimp in the middle." 

However, most users agreed that the big-box retailer's panko shrimp offered more bang for your bunk in value and taste. "The panko shrimp has more taste than the shrimp tempura itself," writes one Redditor, while another adds, "The panko shrimp is our favorite by far. They actually look like shrimp and not long white batter-coated pencils."

Kirkland Signature Frozen Scallops

10. Kirkland Signature Raw Sea Scallops

Praised for their delicate, buttery texture, scallops are sometimes known as the filet mignon of the ocean. However, Costco's Kirkland Signature Raw Sea Scallops may disappoint because they're frozen, users say. 

Some reported a rubbery texture that detracts from the flavor of fresh scallops, while another user said they "turn out okay enough," as long as they "let them thaw completely, and pat them dry a little bit before searing." Still, Costco's frozen scallops are "not as good as fresh," the user adds.