Founded in 1944, the National Sanitation Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to developing standards, product certifications and risk-management practices for public health and safety. NSF focuses primarily on food, water, indoor air quality and the environment while developing its standards.
Though food service equipment does not have to bear the NFS mark, those models that do are easier to clean and ensure a safer commercial kitchen. For example, many local health codes require the use of NSF certified compartment sinks in all restaurants. NSF certified sinks have smooth welds, coved bowl corners and drainboards that drain to the sink bowl. All of these features are designed to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria reproducing.
What the NSF Mark Means
An Internationally Trusted Certification. In addition to national organizations like the FDA, the NSF mark is a standard certification for several international organizations like:
- World Health Organization
- European Hygienic Equipment Design Group
- European Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association
The NSF mark on food service equipment means that everything from the product design to materials used to create the product have been tested and conform to food equipment safety and sanitization standards. In order to achieve the mark, products undergo a rigorous inspection in three key areas:
- Product Design. The product is physically evaluated to assure that it meets proposed specifications.
- Material Review. Toxicologists inspect the manufacturing materials to assure that they are safe for use in commercial kitchens. Materials used must also be corrosion resistant.
- Cleaning Ease. The product is tested to assure that it is easy to clean and sanitize.
Manufacturing facilities are also subject to annual audits to assure that the production processes and materials used still conform to NSF standards.
NSF Certified Food Service Equipment
Currently, there are over 120,000 individual food service products that carry the NSF certification. In addition to the aforementioned design, material and cleaning ease tests, more complex pieces of food service equipment have specific performance requirements.
- Commercial Dishwashers and Commercial Glasswashers. Commercial warewashing equipment with the NSF mark must be able to remove baked-on food, properly sanitize dishes and display accurate water temperature and pressure readings.
- Commercial Cooking and Hot Food Holding Equipment. Certified commercial cooking equipment must demonstrate high heat, impact and abrasion resistance. Hot food holding equipment must be able to maintain the appropriate holding temperature for stored foods.
- Commercial Freezers/Refrigerators. Commercial refrigeration equipment must be able to keep stored foods at the appropriate temperatures (below 40°F for refrigerators and at or below 0°F for freezers), and the thermometers must display accurate readings, as well.
- Commercial Beverage Equipment. Hot beverage dispensing equipment must keep beverages above 140 °F, and cold beverage dispensers must keep fluids below 40 °F.
- Frozen Drink and Dessert Dispensers. Equipment that dispenses frozen items like smoothies or soft-serve ice cream must keep foods appropriately cold even at the dispensing head or spout.