After seeking out sushi-grade tuna to make my own spicy tuna poke, I became curious as to what exactly constitutes sushi- or sashimi-grade fish.
The terms "sushi-grade" and "sashimi-grade" were created to ensure certain types of seafood can be consumed in raw form — but it turns out that they're more marketing terms than anything else. There are no clear health parameters enforced by the Food and Drug Administration or any other food agency that seafood must pass in order to be labeled sushi- or sashimi-grade. The FDA does maintain that all fish eaten raw must be frozen first.
The moral of the story? When it comes to eating raw fish, you're at the mercy of the person preparing it. Make sure you're aware of the freezing conditions that the fish have been subject to: fish intended to be eaten raw should either be frozen for seven days at -4 degrees Fahrenheit, or flash frozen for 15 hours at -31 degrees. In addition, look out for any warning signs of less-than-fresh seafood, like pearly rainbow or yellowish discolorations, dull flesh, or a fishy smell.
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