“Sashimi-grade” is often used by seafood companies as an indicator of quality and freshness, which is definitely what we’re all about. In the Japanese vernacular, “sashimi” refers to thinly sliced raw fish. So, a natural conclusion one might make is that sashimi-grade fish is suitable for raw consumption. In fact, this isn’t always the case.
For many species, food safety laws require that the fish be frozen to kill parasites before being served raw. In labeling, products suitable for raw consumption can be labeled “ready-to-eat,” which is a regulated definition. On the other hand, there is no legal or regulated definition of “sashimi-grade.”
Our colleagues at the Ike Jime Federation are working to change that. They’re on a mission to define and put into regulation clear guidelines for what may be called sashimi-grade, both from food safety and quality standards. And we’re big fans. With defined standards and auditing protocols, everyone will be on the same page when it comes to “sashimi-grade.”
Until then, be aware that seafood marketed as "sashimi-grade" might not be safe to consume raw.