Sushi Rice Safety FAQs

Note: Content modified from the Regulations Governing the Sanitation of Food Establishments, Appendix D.

How do I ensure sushi rice is safe to eat?2018-09-04T09:59:27-07:00

Dry, uncooked rice is not considered a potentially hazardous product. Store uncooked rice at room temperature in a dry, covered container placed at least 6 inches off the ground.

The cooking process adds water, making cooked rice a potentially hazardous food that can support the growth of bacteria, which requires additional controls to keep the product safe.

To ensure you are preparing the safest sushi rice possible:

Store sushi rice either below 41°F±2° or above 135°F±2° (3-501.16)


Use time as a public health control (3-501.19) – If the rice is stored between 41°F±2° and 135°F±2° (the temperature danger zone) it must be served within four hours of preparation.

Your facility must have a written procedure maintained onsite, and train staff to follow the procedure. Once prepared, you must time label the container of sushi rice and ensure any rice remaining after four hours is disposed.


You may have a sample of your sushi rice (made from a consistent recipe) tested by a certified laboratory to determine if the amount of vinegar you add makes the rice so acidic that it will not support the growth of bacteria, essentially making it non-potentially hazardous (see below for details).

What is a potentially hazardous food (PHF)?2018-09-04T10:00:23-07:00

The food regulations define a potentially hazardous food as a food that requires temperature control (TCS) to limit pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation and includes an animal food that is raw or heat-treated, a plant food that is heat-treated (such as rice) or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes, which are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microbial growth or toxin formation, or garlic-in-oil mixtures, which are not modified in a way that results in mixtures that do not support pathogenic microbial growth or toxin formation.

A PHF may be rendered non-potentially hazardous if its water activity (AW) and/or acidity (pH) is modified. See Chapter 1, Potentially Hazardous Food (B)(2), Tables A and B of the regulations for these parameters.

What is the procedure for having my sushi rice tested to determine if I can hold it a room temperature longer than four hours?2018-09-04T10:01:30-07:00
    Chapter 1, Potentially Hazardous Food (B)(2), Tables A and B of the regulations for these parameters.
  1. Submit a copy of the laboratory report to the health district for review. A good rule of thumb is if your rice comes back with a pH less than 4.2, rice made per that recipe may remain at room temperature more than four hours.
  2. Testing by a certified lab must take place at least once a year for a consistent recipe. Testing must also take place whenever the recipe changes, including changes in ingredients, ingredient amounts or brands of ingredients.

Note: This applies only to sushi rice that is being utilized to prepare sushi for immediate consumption. Sushi containing seafood and other PHFs must be held at 41°F±2° or colder.

Contact Information

Phone: (702) 759-1258


Updated on: October 10, 2018

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