Consumer Resources

As an independent global health and safety organization, NSF International tests and certifies products and writes standards for the food, water and consumer goods industries. Founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation, we changed our name to NSF International in 1990 as we expanded our services worldwide. The letters NSF do not represent any specific words today.

Safer Supplements for Your Family

When you are choosing a vitamin or dietary/nutritional supplement, you want to make sure it is safe for your family. Check out NSF’s guide to selecting dietary and nutritional supplements.

This guide not only contains tips to help you select a safer supplement, but explains what label claims to watch out for as you search through the available products online or at your local store.  

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Most Popular Q&A

  • Open What's the best bottled water to drink?

    While there is no ratings system for bottled water, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established official standards of identify for bottled water. The most common bottled water types include:

    Drinking Water - Can originate from a variety sources, including public water supplies. It may undergo additional treatment, such as disinfection or filtration.

    Purified Water - Is produced through reverse osmosis, deionization or distillation so that it meets the definition of purified water in the United States Pharmacopoeia. The amount of metals and minerals in purified water is usually lower than in other types of bottled water.

    Spring Water - Comes from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface. It can contain minerals and other substances that occur naturally in the area from which the water is being drawn.

    Mineral Water - Comes from an underground formation that is physically and geologically protected. Similar to spring water, it can contain minerals and other substances that occur naturally in the area from which the water is being drawn. No minerals may be added to it.

    Keep in mind that terms such as pure or natural are advertising terms and do not indicate the quality of the product. If you are unsure which type of bottled water would be best for you, you may want to consult with a registered dietician or other health care provider to see if they can help make a recommendation.

  • Open Do NSF certified clothes washers have to heat water to a certain temperature to sanitize clothing?

    NSF Protocol P172 measures the antimicrobial efficacy of washing machines by determining whether the sanitary wash cycle is effective at removing 99.9 percent of bacteria from heavily contaminated cloth swatches from typical laundry loads.  The protocol does not evaluate the water or steam temperature per se, but rather evaluates the ability of the sanitization cycle to perform effectively.

    The sanitization cycle of a washer is dependent on the combination of many variables (e.g.  drum size, drum shape, heater wattage- if applicable, cycle time, cycle temperature, tumbling action, etc.). These variables can change from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer as long as they perform effectively.

    A list of clothes washers that are currently NSF certified can be found in the NSF listings.

  • Open Does NSF test fluoride and other treatment chemicals for effectiveness?

    In the late 1980s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested that NSF work with public health and regulatory agencies to develop a standard for drinking water treatment chemicals to help limit the introduction of impurities from such products. What resulted was NSF/ANSI 60: Drinking Water Treatment Chemicals. While this American National Standard does not address the effectiveness of water treatment products, it does establish requirements that limit the potential introduction of impurities when a product is used up to a maximum usage rate. Product users are responsible for ensuring that the product is achieving the desired end result.

  • Open Are products manufactured in an NSF GMP registered facility considered to be certified?

    GMP registrations do not apply to individual products. Rather, they are a type of facility certification designed to help verify that a manufacturer is following the good manufacturing practices (GMP) established for their industry.

    Although no product testing is conducted as part of a GMP audit, there are separate certifications available that do include product testing to help confirm whether a product contains the ingredients/quantities shown on the label (i.e. NSF/ANSI 173) as well as to determine if they are free of banned substances (i.e. NSF Certified for Sport).

  • Open How can I determine how much of each contaminant a water filter reduces?

    Performance testing of home water treatment systems is done on a pass/fail basis. To earn certification for reduction of a specific contaminant, a product must be able to reduce that contaminant by the minimum amount shown in the applicable American National Standard. For example, to be certified for lead reduction under NSF/ANSI 53, a product must be able to reduce 150 ppb of lead to less than 10 ppb in the filtered water.

    For exact percentage reductions achieved by an individual system, please check directly with the manufacturer.

  • Open Do I really need to follow expiration dates?

    Yes, especially if you or someone living in your home any health issues. Although not all food labeling dates are for safety, use-by and expiration dates are the two dates to which consumers should pay the most attention. Best Before and Best if Used By dates are quality dates and are not for food safety, while Sell By dates are mostly for store display purposes.

  • Open Where can I get an MSDS for a product I saw on your website?

    NSF International would not be able to provide a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for any product that we evaluate. Please contact the product manufacturer directly for assistance. Contact information for manufacturers with NSF certified or registered products is provided in the NSF online listings.

  • Open Are products certified as organic in the U.S. also GMO free?

    Organic products sold in the U.S. are required to be grown, processed and handled from farm to shelf in accordance with USDA National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. While the NOP specifically prohibits the use of genetic engineering or genetically modified organisms in conjunction with organic food, it is possible for an organic crop to be exposed to GMOs from drift (such as wind pollination, birds or bees) or other natural forces beyond the control of the organic farmer. To help limit the impact of non-organic farming practices, the NOP requires organic farmers to follow practices such as creating buffer zones between their own farms and neighboring farms that use conventional farming methods.

  • Open Are there any alternative to using chlorine to disinfect pool water?

    There are several types of pool disinfection systems that have been certified for compliance with NSF/ANSI 50: Pool Equipment, including copper or copper/silver ionization systems, ozone generators and ultraviolet disinfection systems. It is important to note that most system manufacturers still recommend that pool owners use a small amount of chlorine or bromine to help oxidize organic matter such as skin cells, oil and hair (this is mandatory for commercial pools).

  • Open Does NSF have any standards for gray water or water reuse?

    NSF/ANSI 350 is an American National Standard that establishes minimum material, design, construction and performance requirements for on-site water reuse systems, including water quality requirements for the reduction of chemical and microbiological contaminants. The treated wastewater produced by certified systems is intended for non-potable water use. Subject to local regulatory approval, the treated water can typically be used for restricted indoor water use, such as toilet and urinal flushing, as well as unrestricted outdoor water use, such as lawn irrigation.

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