What is NSF?

Restaurant buyers, commercial kitchens, health departments and others across the U.S, Europe and in other global markets, often require equipment that is NSF International certified. So, what is NSF and how are its standards developed?

Founded in 1944, NSF is an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based independent, accredited certification organization. Its mission is to protect and improve global human health. In doing so, NSF has developed more than 80 voluntary public health sanitation standards. The founding of NSF was based on the needs of the foodservice equipment industry which led to the development and publication of the very first NSF standard in 1952. Today there are 21 active food equipment sanitation standards covering different equipment types and aspects of the foodservice industry.

Because NSF’s standards development and certification processes are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), standards are often referred to as NSF/ANSI standards.

“What is unique about NSF is our approach to setting standards,” said Allan Rose, standards development liaison. “NSF works toward what we call ‘consensus standards’ that are developed through a public Joint Committee process that ensures balanced input from industry, public health, regulatory, academia, consumers and other applicable stakeholders.”

In keeping with the consensus standards approach, all members of the Joint Committee help develop the standards and then must also vote on acceptance of any new standards or changes to those already in place.

Once standards are developed for specific products, manufacturers then work with NSF to certify that their products are compliant. Overseeing the implementation of the standards for certification purposes is the responsibility of Mike Kohler, associate technical director, foodservice equipment. Mike and his team evaluate thousands of pieces of commercial foodservice equipment each year.

“Our work often begins in the labs to ensure that products comply with material, design and performance requirements of the standards,” Mike said. “But we also spend a lot of time in manufacturing facilities analyzing materials, inspecting operations to ensure good manufacturing practices, and auditing compliance with the standards. Our teams literally evaluate every aspect of a product’s development and monitor the ongoing production.”

To learn more about the standard development and revision process as well as the committees and task groups that work on NSF’s standards and policies, check out the NSF Online Workspace.