How to Tell If Sushi is Bad: Warning Signs to Look Out For

If you are a sushi lover, you know how delectable and healthy it can be when made from fresh ingredients. However, sushi can be dangerous if it is not made, served or stored properly. This article will explain how to tell if sushi is bad and warn you about the signs to look out for.


How can you tell if sushi has gone bad just by smelling it?

The smell is the easiest way to determine if sushi has gone bad. Fresh sushi has a mild ocean smell. However, if you smell any sour or ammonia-like odors, it is an indication that the sushi has gone bad. These aromas are produced by bacteria formation, and they are a warning sign that should not be ignored.

Color and Texture

How can you tell if sushi is bad just by its color and texture?

The texture of fresh sushi is hard and chewy. Sushi that is aged or expired may be sticky, slimy or mushy. The color of fresh sushi should be bright and vibrant. Any change in the color of sushi, such as yellow or brown, indicates that the sushi has gone bad.

Inspecting the Fish

What is the best way to check if the fish used for sushi is fresh?

As sushi is usually made of raw fish, inspecting the fish is one of the most important steps to check the freshness of sushi. The flesh of fresh fish should be smooth and firm to the touch, and should not have any visible discoloration or spots. The eyes of the fish should be clear and bright, and the gills should be a healthy pink or red, indicating fresh oxygen. If the eyes are cloudy, the flesh is soft or sticky, or the gills have changed color, the sushi is not fresh and should not be consumed.

Checking the Rice

What does spoiled sushi rice look and smell like?

While the quality of the fish is the most important factor to determine the freshness of sushi, the rice used in sushi can also go bad if it is not stored and prepared properly. Spoiled sushi rice will have a sour smell or taste, and may be slimy or grainy. The stickiness of the rice is one thing that can tell you a lot about the quality of the sushi. If the sushi rice is too sticky or too dry, it means that the chef hasn’t done a good job.


How long can sushi be stored?

Sushi can usually be stored for up to 24 hours in the fridge. However, it is recommended to consume sushi as soon as possible after it is made. If you are planning on keeping sushi for an extended period, it is important to store it properly. Sushi should be stored at a temperature between 32 and 38°F. Improper storage can lead to bacterial growth, which can cause food poisoning.


Can leftover sushi be stored for another day?

Leftover sushi should be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge. While it is still safe to consume the next day, the quality will deteriorate over time. When reheating sushi, it is important to avoid overheating, as this can make the fish tough or dry.

Safety Precautions

What are some safety precautions to consider when consuming sushi?

  • Ask questions: Before placing your order, ask the chef where the fish comes from and how fresh it is.
  • Choose reputable restaurants: Choose a reputable sushi restaurant that follows proper storage and handling practices.
  • Wash your hands: It is important to wash your hands before eating sushi, as harmful bacteria can be transferred from your hands to the food.
  • Use chopsticks: Using chopsticks can help prevent bacteria from transferring from your hands to the food.


In conclusion, sushi is a delicious and healthy dish, but it is important to pay attention to the warning signs that indicate that the sushi has gone bad. Sushi that is not fresh or is prepared improperly can cause food poisoning, which can lead to severe health issues. By taking the necessary safety precautions and keeping an eye out for the warning signs, you can enjoy fresh and safe sushi every time.


  • How long can sushi be kept at room temperature?
    Sushi should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours because bacteria can easily grow in warm, moist environments.
  • What is the ideal temperature for storing sushi?
    Sushi should be stored at a temperature between 32 and 38°F, which is slightly above freezing but below normal fridge temperature.
  • Can you get food poisoning from sushi?
    Yes, you can get food poisoning from sushi if it is not fresh or is prepared improperly.
  • Is it safe to eat sushi during pregnancy?
    Pregnant women should avoid sushi made from raw fish, but they can safely consume sushi made with cooked fish or vegetables.
  • How long can you keep leftover sushi in the fridge?
    Leftover sushi should be consumed within 24 hours, but the quality will deteriorate over time.


  • Jagger, M. (2018). How to eat sushi safely. Independent. Retrieved from
  • Julson, E. (2020). How to Tell If Sushi Is Safe to Eat. Healthline. Retrieved from
  • Lee, J. W., Jeon, Y. J., & Byun, H. G. (2019). Freshness evaluation of fish for sashimi and sushi by odor sensing and machine-learning approach. Food chemistry, 293, 121-127.

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