If this label looks familiar, you’ve probably seen it on one of the many products that NSF International (formerly known as the National Sanitation Foundation) reviews. NSF International is an inspection and certification organization based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan that conducts product testing on a number of products – primarily food service equipment. What does NSF certification signify?
NSF International is an independent, non-profit organization that is internationally recognized by a large number of consumer product manufacturers. The mission of the organization is to certify food service equipment to ensure that it is designed and constructed to a standard of food safety. NSF certified products undergo a stringent set of tests and evaluations so that quality food safety requirements and standards are met before being sold to the consumer public.
In order to receive NSF certification, a product designed for a consumer at home must meet the same public health standards as those used in commercial establishments such as hospitals, hotels, schools, restaurants, and anywhere in the food service industry. These tests are designed to measure standards of materials, construction techniques, and cleaning requirements. Becoming NSF certified can be a timely and costly process, depending on the size of the organization.
To begin the certification process, the facility where the product is being manufactured must be thoroughly audited by an NSF representative. This process involves three steps:
- Physical evaluation – product is examined to ensure it meets food safety standards
- Testing – product and materials used are evaluated and measure efficacy.
- Follow-up audits – the facility and product must undergo annual follow up audits to maintain NSF certification.
This process confirms that the product is manufactured in a sanitary manner and that the standards for sanitary design elements are met throughout the entire course of construction and assembly.
Why Get Certified?
Many organizations pay for NSF testing to prove the quality and efficacy of their products. Some common equipment that is tested and certified by the NSF include: cook, commercial dishwashers, hot holding, and transport equipment, dispensing freezers, commercial refrigerators and storage freezers, automatic ice making equipment, and food and beverage dispensing equipment. This equipment includes water filters, which are tested to meet drinking water quality NSF Standards 42 and 53. These tests measure a fridge filter to reduce chlorine and remove lead, mercury, and other impurities from your water.
Knowing that a product you are thinking about purchasing could help make a buying decision easier. Products that undergo NSF certification evaluation have been testing to meet industry standards, which could indicate a higher quality product. Products that don’t have NSF certification, however, are not necessarily a worse product. For example, the primary difference between OEM and aftermarket water filters is the price and NSF ratings, though many non-NSF rated filters are constructed from NSF rated parts. Even though the aftermarket filters are not NSF certified, we recommend them due to their affordable price and excellent filtration.