Sushi—either you love it or you hate it. Either way, you may be mildly sketched out at the idea of eating raw fish, even if it is labeled as "sushi-grade."
So what makes raw fish "sushi-grade?" Don't drop your spicy tuna roll just yet, but there's actually no real definition to the phrase, nor regulation surrounding its use in the US.
The term "sushi-grade" can be tossed around by restaurants, grocery stores and suppliers in the same way other sexy food words like "natural" and "pure" are.
But that also doesn't mean you're inevitably going to get sick. The FDA regulates fish intended to be consumed raw under their "Parasite Destruction Act," meaning your sashimi has been frozen to -20ºC for at least of 7 days, or -35ºC for at least 15 hours to kill any serious bugs.
This takes care of any infectious parasites in the fish (phew), but still leaves bacterial contamination as a potential risk to consumers. The best thing you can do is be your own sushi-grader and maintain a "fresher-is-better" mentality when it comes to sushi.
To keep yourself safe, watch sushi or poké preparation carefully to ensure cross contamination does not occur (like using the same cutting boards and knives for all parts of the sushi, not just the fish).
When it comes to grocery store sushi, make sure your rolls are kept cold and consumed as soon after preparation as possible. Or, opt for a veggie roll or cooked fish option.
Sushi can be a fun, delicious, and healthful way to enjoy a meal. Just be wise about the "sushi-grade" myth and you can poké or sushi-ritto roll your way to happiness all day.