NSF, UL, Energy Star and ETL
In the foodservice industry, product safety is a key component of day-to-day business. Ensuring that your restaurant or commercial kitchen is equipped with tools that will do their job safely and with maximum efficiency is an important consideration for anyone buying foodservice equipment. Fortunately, there are testing and certification agencies in place that identify the most safe and efficient options out there for you. These agencies test product after product, running them through their stringent testing procedures to uncover not only the best performers in operator safety but food safety, santitation and overall energy efficiency. Below are some of the largest foodservice agencies to know of with their corresponding product certification marks to look for when making your next investment.
NSF International :: The Public Health and Safety Company,™
“NSF”, which stands for National Sanitation Foundation, is an agency that is dedicated to protecting the environment and public health safety across a wide range of industries and products. In the foodservice industry specifically, the NSF approval means a few things in the mind of the customer. First, this listing reassures that equipment has met health standards and has undergone rigorous inspection testing which in turn instills confidence in the end user’s purchasing decision. Second, having this stamp of safety on your equipment tells your health authorities that you have made a sound decision by investing in equipment that is constructed with proper sanitation principles in mind. Below are a few of the different NSF “Standards” that have been created to meet various equipment types:
- ANSI/NSF Standard 3: Commercial Spray-Type Dishmachines
- ANSI/NSF Standard 4: Commercial Cooking Equipment, Rethermailization & Hot Food Holding & Transportation Equipment
- ANSI/NSF Standard 7: Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers
- ANSI/NSF Standard 12: Automatic Ice Machine Equipment
- ANSI/NSF Standard 18: Food & Beverage Dispensing Equipment
ANSI = American National Standards Institute
Since 1894, UL has been one of the leading agencies in safety certification with 75 years of experience in the foodservice industry dealing with cooking equipment, refrigeration, food processing equipment and food preparation for manufacturers of gas and electric equipment. Equipment can be tested for a UL listing for Electrical Safety, Gas Safety and Sanitation. This non-profit, independent agency has nearly 20 different UL safety standards just for the commercial foodservice industry.
When people see the blue Energy Star sticker on a piece of equipment, there is a level of confidence that is added to the user experience. Energy Star was introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Energy as an initiative to help the end-user find products that not only saved energy (and energy costs) but also helped the environment. Originally, this program was solely dedicated to the residential sector, ranging from home heating to home appliances, but in 2001 that all changed. At this time the EPA expanded the Energy Star® effort to the commercial refrigeration equipment sector. Later they rolled out the program to steamers, fryers, holding cabinets and other cooking equipment, and they continue to add this seal of energy efficiency to other categories in foodservice.
Founded in 1896, ETL is an independent testing agency owned by Intertek that does third-party testing and and certification of commercial foodservice equipment (electric, gas fired, and other safety standards). In a nutshell, an ETL listed item is proof of product safety. ETL is recognized by OSHA as a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) like UL, CSA, and other independent testing agencies and it has become a major, reputable source over the years. For a manufacturer to get the ETL approval, there must first be a design review followed by the testing period and finally a regular follow up service to ensure that standards are continually being complied to.