Sushi can one of the greatest food items of all time. Whether you are meeting up with friends, out on date night, or looking for a quick bite before a movie, sushi is a delicious, readily-available option that is beloved by many.

For many parents, it makes sense to consider sushi as a healthy, bite-size dinner option for their children, right?

Well, not so fast!

According to the Food and Drug Association (FDA), raw fish or foods, in general, are more likely to contain bacteria and parasites when compared to cooked fish. So, there are valid safety concerns when it comes to feeding raw fish to very young children.

If you are wondering if it’s safe for your child to eat sushi, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are 4 sushi safety tips for parents:

1. Don’t Start Them Young

As a general rule of thumb, children under the age of 5 should not consume raw fish because they are especially susceptible to foodborne diseases.

Young children do not have a completely developed immune system, so they can’t fight the potential bacteria and parasites that may be present in raw fish or shellfish. If a child gets food poisoning, it can be catastrophic.

However, it is a good idea to introduce cooked fish or shellfish to children beyond 4-6 months of age as long as they are not at risk for food allergies.

2. Only Go to Reputable Sushi Restaurants

Even if your children are of the right age to eat sushi, you don’t necessarily want to get the cheapest sushi you can find.

A high-rated sushi restaurant will have knowledgeable chefs and a well-trained staff to ensure the safety of their patrons. A skilled sushi chef will know how to handle fish and will easily spot the anisakis larvae, which can be found in raw fish.

The FDA has recommendations for the handling, storage, and transportation of fish. Reputable sushi restaurants will follow these guidelines to ensure the quality and safety of the ingredients.

3. The Right Fish Matters

There are certain types of fish that are not appropriate for eating raw, or sushi-style. You will want to avoid freshwater fish such as trout, yellow perch, and pike. These types of freshwater fish must be cooked thoroughly at 145 degrees F before they are safe for consumption.

When it comes to the safest option for sushi, your best bet is to go for tuna. It freezes and defrosts quickly in its preparation, so it is able to steer clear of parasites if handled properly.

4. Explore Other Menu Items

Sushi restaurants serve several cooked options. If you are not comfortable with feeding sushi to your child, consider ordering other items such as shrimp tempura, or a teriyaki rice bowl. Better yet, treat your kids to an amazing bento box. It is like your traditional lunch box with many different delicious food items, but with a Japanese twist.

Sushi Safety Comes First

When it comes to enjoying sushi, safety is paramount – especially when you have kids. Hopefully, these tips will help you improve your family’s experience the next time you visit a sushi restaurant.