Raw fish is a food-poisoning ticking time bomb.
For Americans, sushi as a go-to meal choice is a relatively new phenomenon. Sushi has been served in Japan for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that these colorful rolls were brought to the U.S.
Sushi is traditionally made with vinegared rice, seaweed (nori), seafood, and/or vegetables. It’s intended to be prepared fresh and eaten ASAP. There are multiple reasons for this, one being aesthetics (called moritsuke, which is the art of Japanese plating), and another is freshness. (However, due to the rising demand for sushi—especially in places with no ocean nearby—more and more restaurants are using frozen fish.)
As sushi becomes more popular, new ways of enjoying the dish have too—including sushi delivery and ready-to-eat rolls at the grocery store. Whether you get your sushi delivered, from a supermarket, or from a restaurant, with every passing moment, that sushi’s intended integrity is dwindling.
So, if you order too many rolls one night or are full from a sushi feast—do you have to say sayonara to your extra sushi? Is keeping leftover actually sushi safe? Short answer: Leftovers are possible—but the clock is ticking.
How Long Different Sushi Types Last In the Fridge
Sushi’s expiration date depends on the ingredients in your roll. All types of leftovers, whether it’s sushi or your grandma’s chicken soup, should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Room temperatures can cause illness-causing bacteria to double within 20 minutes, so the sooner you chill your eats, the better. (Check out these rookie cooking mistakes that may give you food poisoning.)
If your sushi has raw fish, it should be consumed within 24 hours. Consuming raw, fresh food may increase your risk of food poisoning, which can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The best way to kill germs on your food is to cook or freeze it, which is why raw, uncooked foods are particularly risky.
If your sushi has fresh veggies only, your rolls may be good for 5 to 7 days. Although, like a fresh salad, your veggie sushi may wilt in quality much sooner.
If your sushi has other ingredients, such as imitation crab, cream cheese, or mango, it’s important to remember that those eat-by-dates can vary.
When it comes to enjoying sushi safely, if you can’t eat it ASAP, here are good rules of thumb to follow:
Your roll will last as long as your quickest expiring ingredient
And if your sushi smells fishy or icky, or looks dull in color, it’s best to toss it.
No matter what you’re eating, the “when in doubt, throw it out” mantra goes a long way.
Learn more eat-by-dates for your favorite foods:
Sushi in the United States, 1945-1970. Sheffield, UK: Jonas House, Sociology of Consumption and Households, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands; Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, 2018. (Accessed on April 22, 2019 at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07409710.2017.1420353)
Moritsuke: The Use of Framing and Space. The Essence of Japanese Cuisine: An Essay on Food and Culture, by Michael Ashkenazi, Jeanne Jacob. (Accessed on April 22, 2019 at https://books.google.com/books?id=g_eGICVMj3YC&pg=PA161&lpg=PA161&dq=moritsuke&source=bl&ots=CqrepHlrcj&sig=ACfU3U1worI1m_8AN_TkWqLdbyKrpli0JQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjTjqbzvLThAhWom-AKHcafAXIQ6AEwDHoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=moritsuke&f=false)
Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart. Food and Drug Administration. (Accessed on April 22, 2019 at https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/ResourcesForYou/HealthEducators/UCM109315.pdf)
Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, FoodSafety.gov. (Accessed on April 22, 2019 at https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html)
Foodborne Illnesses and Germs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on April 22, 2019 at https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html)
How Long Does Sushi Last? EatbyDate.com. (Accessed on April 22, 2019 at https://www.eatbydate.com/proteins/seafood/how-long-does-sushi-last-shelf-life-expiration-date)