Catering equipment standards

January 16, 2017

Update On International Commercial Electric “Catering Equipment Standards”

by Tom Blewitt, director, primary designated engineers, UL

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is implementing an important change affecting commercial electrical catering equipment (warming and cooking appliances, dishwashers, kitchen machines and hoods). Responsibility for thirteen (13) catering equipment standards maintained by IEC subcommittee SC61E is being transferred to IEC TC61, the main committee responsible for all IEC appliance safety standards. Voting by national committees (NC’s) resulting in this change of responsibility occurred at the Guangzhou plenary meeting of IEC TC61 in November.

One consequence of this change is that final decisions and voting on the equipment standards will be done by all of TC61 instead of the smaller group of NC’s represented on the commercial catering equipment subcommittee. Proposals to change the standards would also be submitted by NC’s directly to TC61. In practice, a new Maintenance Team (MT) of TC61 would then be asked to vet the proposals and make recommendations to the full TC61 for their vote.

NAFEM members who work with the IEC standards for their international markets may see anywhere from little impact to significant impact from the change. This is because the impact will depend upon how aggressive TC61, with its own officers and larger group of NC’s, will be in maintaining the catering equipment standards. Since TC61 tends to actively maintain its other standards, keeping them state-of-the-art, it is reasonable to assume that particular early emphasis will be placed on updating the catering equipment requirements for safety function of electronic controls.

The USNC did not previously participate in SC61E and therefore had no say in the content of the IEC catering equipment standards. The good news is that if the US wants to influence the content of these standards, they now fall under the scope of the existing US Technical Advisory Group (USTAG) for TC61. That TAG is quite active, meeting twice a year to develop US input on the IEC appliance standards.

Commercial foodservice (catering) equipment producers and others interested in participating in the USTAG for TC61 are invited to contact the TAG Technical Advisor, Tom Blewitt at

Categorized in: Industry Standards