Whether you are beginning a kitchen remodel or a bathroom update, or you are a restaurateur looking to make some changes to your kitchen, here are some important tips to consider when looking for a certified countertop.

What’s the Difference?

Tested and certified countertops are reviewed based on the area they will be used in and whether they will be in direct contact with food. Here’s the main difference between two types of use:

  • Food zone means the countertop surface would be in direct or incidental food contact.
  • Splash zone means the surface is likely to be splashed, spilled upon or soiled.

For example, a splash zone surface may be used at a handwashing sink or in a restroom whereas a food zone countertop would be in a kitchen prep area or around the stovetop where food is cooked.

Why Is It Important?

When a surface is tested and certified by NSF International for food contact, we verify the composition and that the finish will not leach harmful chemicals that could contaminate food or make the surface difficult to clean and sanitize.

Food zone countertops have also been evaluated for the temperature they can withstand before degradation occurs. This can be important when you are considering installation near a stove or cooktop.

In contrast, a splash zone (non-food contact) surface, like those in a restroom or at a handwashing sink, are NOT evaluated for food contact but rather for durability, construction and cleanability.

How Do You Know If a Countertop Has Been Certified?

Look for the NSF mark on the product or product packaging, and for the designation of “splash zone” or “food zone” to make sure you are using the right surface for your area. In other words, don’t choose a splash zone countertop for an area that may have food contact or that you want to set hot pans on.

You can also verify a countertop’s certification to the NSF/ANSI 51: Food Equipment Materials standard by viewing the list of NSF certified countertops. If you have questions about choosing a countertop, cleaning or other food equipment certifications, contact our consumer information hotline at 1.800.673.8010 or email info@nsf.org.