Explanation of sushi-grade fish

Release time:2023-10-27 Number of views: 123

With more than 4,000 sushi restaurants in the United States, it's clear that people's love of sushi outweighs concerns about the safety of raw fish. To maintain the public's trust, sushi restaurant owners must be extra careful when sourcing fish and other sushi ingredients. As an operator, you may be wondering if seafood labeled "Sushi-grade fish" is 100% safe to eat raw. Read on to learn what the sushi grade label means and which seafood is best for making sushi rolls.

Use the links below to learn how to safely serve raw fish:


What is Sushi-grade fish?

FDA regulation of raw fish

What fish is best for sushi?

How to buy sushi grade fish?

What is Sushi-grade fish?

Sushi-grade fish (or sashimi grade) is an unregulated term used to identify fish that are considered safe to eat raw. Most fishmongers will use the term "sushi grade" to indicate that the product they serve is the freshest, highest quality and has been handled with special care to limit the risk of foodborne illness. This usually involves putting the fish through a freezing process before selling it.


There is no official standard for Sushi-grade fish, so you should not fully trust the Sushi-grade label. Because it is unregulated, the term "sushi grade" can be used as a baseless marketing ploy for upselling fish without any consequences.

FDA regulation of raw fish

Although there are no actual guidelines for determining whether or not fish is sushi-grade, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulations for proper handling procedures for eating raw fish. The FDA provides information on the different times and temperatures required for various fish to be considered safe. These are the general guidelines for what the FDA calls the "Parasite Elimination Assurance," which most fish must follow after they are caught:


Freeze and store at ambient temperature -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time)

Freeze until solid at an ambient temperature of -31°F (-35°C) or lower, and store at an ambient temperature of -4°F (-20°C) or lower for 24 hours

Freeze until solid at an ambient temperature of -31°F (-35°C) or lower, and store at an ambient temperature of -31°F (-35°C) or lower for 15 hours

Cold temperatures kill any parasites that may be present in the fish. However, this process needs to start as soon as the fish is on board. They must be caught quickly, bled and gutted after capture, and frozen in a fast freezer within 8 hours of leaving the water. There are many steps that need to be taken to keep the fish safe to eat raw, which is why eating raw sushi or sashimi is always a risk.

What fish is best for sushi?

Some fish are more susceptible to parasites than others, so you should familiarize yourself with the species of fish before blindly buying one with Sushi-grade certification, especially if you plan to eat it raw. Here are the most common types of fish (excluding shellfish) used in raw sushi or sashimi.


Tuna - Tuna is resistant to parasites, so it is one of the few fish that is safe to eat raw with minimal processing. These include albacore, bigeye, bluefin, skipjack, bonito and yellowfin.


Salmon - If you buy salmon for raw food, avoid wild-caught salmon and opt for farmed salmon. Wild salmon spend part of their lives in fresh water, where they are at a higher risk of contracting parasites. The aquaculture industry raises salmon on a parasite-free feed, so it is safer to eat.


Yellowtail - Sushi menus often list the yellowtail as "ham" in Japanese Yellowtail is high in mercury, so eat it in moderation.


Halibut/sole - the terms halibut and flatfish are interchangeable. Flounder is a general term that covers the entire family of flounder, including halibut. Hirame is Japanese for halibut/flounder.


Gizzard Shad - also known as kohada.


Mackerel - This fish is also known as saba or aji. Mackerel is often treated with vinegar before consumption and can be high in mercury.


Sea bass - also known as tai or suzuki, this fish is usually treated with vinegar before eating. Its mercury content is high, should be eaten in moderation.


Farmed fish - Fish from aquaculture are less likely to be infected with parasites and are considered safer to eat raw.


Warning: Freshwater fish are susceptible to parasites. Do not eat raw fish. Cook freshwater seafood thoroughly before eating to kill parasites.

How to buy sushi grade fish

Restaurant owners should check sushi-grade fish to make sure it is fresh and safe to eat. The first step is to source seafood from a reputable fishmonger or market. If you're not sure where to shop, ask nearby restaurants where you can get fish and look for reviews online. The location should receive goods on a regular basis and have knowledgeable staff. To determine if it is safe to eat raw fish, ask your marketing manager the following questions:


How do you define the term "sushi-grade fish"?

Is the source of fish sustainable?

How long has it been in the store?

How often should fish processing equipment be disinfected?


You also need to familiarize yourself with the type of fish you are buying and the characteristics of fresh seafood. Some aspects include:


It smells like sea water. It's not spoiled

Clear and slightly protruding eyes

Red gill

The meat is firm

The whole scale


How to keep sushi grade fish fresh after purchase

Once you have purchased fresh sushi-grade fish, you need to be extra careful when transporting and preparing it to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Seafood should be transported on ice. Refrigerate or freeze the fish immediately, depending on how long you plan to use it.


Thaw frozen fish in the refrigerator to prevent it from falling into the dangerous temperature zone of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or higher. When preparing fish, keep the work area, tools, and hands clean to ensure that sushi-grade fish are as hygienic as possible before serving sushi rolls.


Surprisingly, seafood labeled "Sushi-grade fish" doesn't have to meet any established standards. So the next time you see a sushi grade certification, ask the vendor how they define the term.

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