Q&A: Consumer Resources

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Bottled Water

  • Open Is water packaged in #7 plastic bottles safe to drink?

    Products marked with a recycling code of “7” are produced from a wide variety of plastic materials. Basically, this category includes any plastics not specifically covered by recycling codes 1 through 6. Packaging made from a plastic material marked “7” (Other) is not necessarily considered less safe than others. In the U.S., plastics used for bottled water should meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations for the storage of foods and beverages. If you’re concerned about avoiding a particular ingredient such as BPA, contact the bottled water producer directly to inquire whether they use bottles that are made with or without that ingredient.

    A complete list of bottled water brands that are NSF certified is posted on the NSF website.

  • Open Is bottled water required to be free of contaminants?

    In the U.S., bottled water products are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food product. While not required to be contaminant free, any additives in the water, such as fluoride or minerals, must be disclosed on the product label. Any impurities present in the product must be within the maximum allowable concentrations set by the FDA.

    NSF certified bottled water products are tested for more than 160 microbiological, radiological, heavy metal and chemical contaminants. In addition, the production facilities are regularly audited to ensure good manufacturing practices are in place to protect product integrity. A complete list of bottled water brands that are NSF certified is posted on the NSF website.

  • Open What does NSF certification of bottled water cover?

    NSF certification involves annual, unannounced inspections of a company’s bottling facility covering every aspect of the bottling process from source to packaging. Production facilities are audited for good manufacturing practices as well as risk management systems to help ensure that the final product is safe. As part of the certification process, we extensively test product samples for over 160 impurities to confirm they meet applicable federal and/or state standards. NSF certification also helps ensure that products are labeled with the proper standard of identity for the type of water indicated on the label and that any added ingredients are properly disclosed.

    Look for the NSF mark on the product label or check the NSF online listings to see if your favorite bottled water brand is NSF certified.

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

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration 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.

    In addition to establishing standards of identity, the FDA also sets guidelines limiting the amount of impurities that can be present in bottled water products. Terms such as pure or natural are advertising terms and do not necessarily indicate quality or type.

    Look for the NSF mark on the product label or check the NSF online listings to see if your favorite bottled water brand is NSF certified.

  • Open I've heard that bottled water isn't as regulated as tap water. Is that true?

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has jurisdiction over bottled water products sold in the U.S. This is different from municipal water systems (tap water), which are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    The FDA limits the amount of impurities that can be present in bottled water products, sets minimum testing requirements and has established standards of identity for various types of water like spring, purified, etc. In addition to federal regulations, many states also have quality regulations for bottled water.

  • Open How do I know my bottled water is safe?

    NSF certified bottled water products undergo extensive testing for more than 160 contaminants, while the bottling facilities themselves must meet rigorous standards for good manufacturing practices. Look for the NSF mark on the label or check the NSF online listings to confirm that your favorite brand carries NSF certification.

    Special tip for travelers: When visiting foreign countries, make sure your bottled water still has an intact factory seal. Do not accept any product where the seal has been broken, as the quality of the contents cannot be guaranteed.

  • Open Can any contaminants be present in bottled water?

    Bottled water that is NSF certified is checked for the presence of many different contaminants as well as other quality characteristics, including:

    • Aesthetic contaminants, which can adversely affect the taste, odor or color of the water, including iron, manganese, zinc, chloride, sulfate and total dissolved solids.
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    • Health-related contaminants, for which a potential health hazard has been established. Impurities included in this category are arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury and nitrates. In addition to heavy metals and radiological issues, bottled water is checked for many volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), including pesticides and other synthetic chemicals.
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    • Microbiological concerns, including coliform bacteria, which are not disease-causing themselves but indicate the possibility that other disease-causing bacteria may be present. Since bottled water companies are required to ensure their water is microbiologically safe, many choose to disinfect their water prior to bottling through a process such as ozonation, ultraviolet disinfection or chlorination.
  • Open What's the best way to store bottled water?

    Avoid storing bottled water in a garage or basement where it might be exposed to gasoline fumes, chemicals or excessive dampness. Avoid storing bottled water where it might be exposed to sunlight, instead keeping it in a cool, dry environment, such as a pantry.

    Once opened, bottled water containers should be stored in the refrigerator to inhibit bacterial growth. If using a bottled water dispenser, be sure to clean the dispenser unit often following the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and sanitizing instructions.

  • Open Can you drink bottled water if the date on the bottle expired?

    Expiration dates are usually for freshness and do not necessarily mean that the product is unsafe to consume, assuming the food item has been properly handled and stored.

    To learn more about food product dating, visit the USDA website.

  • Open Can bottled water contain fluoride?

    Fluoride can be found in bottled water products, either because it occurred naturally in the source water used for bottling or because it was added by the bottler. To protect public health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits the amount of fluoride that can be present in both domestic and imported bottled water products. Current limits for fluoride content for bottled water can be viewed online.

    If fluoride is added by a bottler, the amount must be shown on the label. If the fluoride content is not disclosed on the product label, contact the bottled water manufacturer to inquire about the fluoride content of its products. Products likely to contain the lowest levels of fluoride are those labeled as purified or distilled, as the treatment processes used in the production of these products usually reduce any pre-existing fluoride content.

  • Open Which bottled waters are NSF certified?

    A list of the NSF certified bottled water brands is available on the NSF website.

  • Open Can bottled water contain chlorine?

    Although many bottled water companies use ozone or ultraviolet light technologies to disinfect the water, it is possible for bottled water to still contain chlorine, as some companies may use chlorinated water from a public water system as source water for their facility. Bottlers typically use further treatment to remove chlorine from the water before bottling.

    To find out whether your favorite brand of bottled water contains chlorine, contact the bottler directly.

  • Open Is bottled water that is imported into the U.S. regulated?

    Both imported and domestically produced bottled water products must meet FDA standards for quality before being sold to U.S. consumers.

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Consumer Products

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

    The NSF certified sanitary cycle designation does not specify a minimum temperature that a clothes washer must achieve. Rather, machines are performance tested using three different organisms (S. aureus, K. pneumoniae, and P. aeruginosa) which are added to test swatches and then washed with a typical load of laundry. To achieve certification, the clothes washer must demonstrate a 3-log or 99.9 percent reduction of the test organisms during the wash cycle with no significant carryover of these organisms to subsequent loads.

  • Open What temperature does an NSF certified dryer have to reach under Protocol P154?

    The NSF certified sanitary cycle designation does not specify a minimum temperature that a clothes dryer must achieve. Rather, machines are performance tested using three different organisms (S. aureus, K. pneumoniae, and P. aeruginosa) which are added to test swatches and then dried with a typical load of laundry. To achieve certification, the clothes dryer must demonstrate a 3-log or 99.9 percent reduction of the test organisms during the sanitizing dry cycle with no significant carryover of these organisms to subsequent loads.

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Dietary Supplements

  • Open Why should I purchase NSF certified supplements?

    Many reports have been published showing that not all supplement products contain the ingredients or quantities shown on the label. In some cases, unlisted ingredients could pose a health risk, especially to those with allergies. To better protect yourself as a consumer, consider purchasing supplements that are NSF certified to contain the ingredients and quantities shown on the product label. Visit the NSF website for the full list of NSF certified supplements.

  • Open Which supplements do you recommend that I take?

    NSF certification helps ensure the product contains the ingredients and quantities shown on the label and that no unlisted ingredients or harmful impurities are present, but we are not able to offer product usage recommendations. For further guidance, please contact a trusted health care provider to discuss your potential use of dietary supplements.

  • Open Why aren't more dietary supplements NSF certified?

    Since product certification is voluntary, not all companies choose to pursue independent testing and certification, especially if their customers do not demand it before being willing to purchase their products. While financial reasons are sometimes a barrier for some companies, for many others certification is not obtainable either because the manufacturing facility has difficulty passing the GMP (good manufacturing practices) audit or there is a problem with the actual product.

    Not all products are able to pass the label claim testing portion of the certification process, meaning the nutrient content stated on the product label does not match what is actually in the product. Products can also fail if they have a heavy metal or microbial contamination or, in the case of sports supplements, if the product does not pass the banned substance portion of the testing.

    Visit the NSF website or www.nsfsport.com for a full list of NSF certified dietary and sport supplements.

  • Open Why should I check with a health care provider before taking supplements?

    As dietary supplements may not be totally risk-free under all circumstances, you may want to check with a health-care provider prior to using a specific dietary supplement. Some supplements can interact with certain prescription or over-the-counter medications, or could contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects and can cause adverse reactions in some people. Some supplements can also have unwanted effects during surgery. For these reasons, it’s important to fully inform your doctor about the vitamins, minerals, herbs or any other supplements you are taking, especially before surgery.

  • Open What types of products are classified as dietary supplements?

    Dietary supplements are not regulated or classified as drugs. Rather, a dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient” that is intended to supplement the diet. Products meeting this definition include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids and concentrates, metabolites, constituents and extracts of these substances.

  • Open Who ensures the safety of dietary supplements?

    Supplement manufacturers are responsible by law to ensure their products are safe before being marketed. In addition, manufacturers are responsible for determining the accuracy and truth of label claims. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, dietary supplement products are not reviewed by the government before being made available to the consumer. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can take action against any unsafe dietary supplement product that reaches the market. If the FDA is able to prove that claims for a dietary supplement product are either false or misleading, they can take action against such products as well.

  • Open Does the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate dietary supplements advertising?

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates advertising (including infomercials) for dietary supplements and most other products sold to consumers. Advertising and promotional material received in the mail are subject to regulation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

  • Open How does regulation of supplements differ from that of prescription or over-the-counter drugs?

    Dietary supplements are not classified as drugs, but rather fall under the general category of food products. Before marketing, drugs must undergo clinical studies to determine their effectiveness, safety, possible interactions with other substances and appropriate dosages. The U.S. FDA then reviews this data and determines whether to authorize use of the drugs. The FDA does not test dietary supplements or authorize their use prior to them being marketed.

  • Open How does regulation of supplements differ from that of prescription or over-the-counter drugs?

    Dietary supplements are not classified as drugs, but rather fall under the general category of food products. Before marketing, drugs must undergo clinical studies to determine their effectiveness, safety, possible interactions with other substances and appropriate dosages. The U.S. FDA then reviews this data and determines whether to authorize use of the drugs. The FDA does not test dietary supplements or authorize their use prior to them being marketed.

  • Open What kinds of claims can be made on dietary supplement labels?

    By law, manufacturers may make three types of claims for their dietary supplement products:

    Health Claims

    Disease or health claims show a link between a food or substance and a disease or health-related condition. Examples include:

    • Folic acid and a decreased risk of neural tube defect-affected pregnancy, if the supplement contains sufficient amounts of folic acid
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    • Calcium and a lower risk of osteoporosis, if the supplement contains sufficient amounts of calcium

    Structure/Function Claims

    Structure/function claims refer to the supplement’s effect on the body’s structure or function, including its overall effect on a person’s well-being. Examples include:

    • Calcium builds strong bones.
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    • Antioxidants maintain cell integrity.

    Structure/function claims are easy to spot, because the product label must contain the disclaimer, “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

    Nutrient Content Claims

    Nutrient content claims describe the level of a nutrient in a food or dietary supplement. For example, a supplement containing at least 200 milligrams of calcium per serving could carry the claim “high in calcium.” A supplement with at least 12 mg per serving of vitamin C could state on its label, “excellent source of vitamin C.”

  • Open What type of information needs to be included on dietary supplement product labels?

    Under current U.S. law, labels on dietary supplement products must contain the following information:

    • Statement of identity
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    • Net quantity of contents
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    • Directions for use
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    • Supplement facts panel (listing the serving size, amount and active ingredient)
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    • Other ingredients in descending order of predominance and by common name or proprietary blend
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    • Name and place of business of manufacturer, packer or distributor (to contact for more product information)

    If a structure/function claim is being made, the label must also include the disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

  • Open Are manufacturers required to list all ingredients on dietary supplement labels?

    The main ingredients are usually listed on the supplement facts panel, while other ingredients are listed in the “other ingredients” statement beneath the panel. The types of ingredients listed under “other ingredients” include the source of dietary ingredients, (e.g. rose hips as the source of vitamin C), other food ingredients (e.g. water) and any technical additives or processing aids (e.g. colors, preservatives or flavors).

  • Open What can I do to protect myself when purchasing dietary supplements?

    Always look for the NSF mark on the product label. This mark indicates that the product has been tested to ensure that it contains the ingredients and quantities listed on the label and that no unlisted ingredients or potentially harmful levels of impurities are present in the product. In addition, understand that a claim that a product is “all natural” is not a guarantee that the product is safe.

    Avoid products with label claims that the supplement is a new treatment or cure for a specific disease or condition. No companies are authorized under current federal regulations to make such claims for dietary supplements. You can report supplements making such claims to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

     

  • Open What should I do if I suspect I've become ill due to using a dietary supplement?

    If you suspect you have suffered a harmful effect or illness that you think is related to use of a dietary supplement, contact your health care provider. He or she can report the matter to FDA MedWatch by calling 1-800-FDA-1088 or going on the MedWatch website for health care providers. Patient names are kept confidential. Individuals can also call the toll-free MedWatch number or go to the MedWatch website for consumers to report an adverse reaction.

  • Open What does it mean when a product claims to be NSF Certified for Sport®?

    Products that are specifically targeted for use by athletes are eligible for review under the NSF Certified for Sport® program. In addition to meeting all requirements for good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and NSF/ANSI Standard 173 for content and labeling, products are also reviewed to ensure they do not contain substances banned by most major athletic organizations. Like all NSF certification programs, ongoing monitoring ensures products continue to comply with all requirements to maintain product certification.

    Visit the NSF Certified for Sport® website for a full list of NSF certified sport supplements.

  • Open Is NSF GMP registration the same as NSF product certification?

    GMP registration is for a facility and involves onsite audits of a production operation to verify the facility is observing good manufacturing practices established for their industry. At this level, NSF does not conduct testing on the products produced at the facility nor confirms their compliance with American National Standards for content or labeling. Companies interested in seeking product certification can have samples of their products evaluated to determine if they meet NSF/ANSI 173. This American National Standard limits the amount of impurities that can be present in both raw ingredients and finished products, and requires that the ingredients and quantities shown on the label match what is in the product. Products that are determined to meet the requirements of NSF/ANSI 173 can display the NSF mark on the product label.

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

    GMP registration does not apply to individual products. Rather, it is a facility certification that involves regular onsite audits of a company’s production operation to verify that it observes good manufacturing practices (GMP) established for the industry. No testing is conducted as part of the GMP audit on any products produced at the facility. Companies follow a separate certification process to verify that products contain the ingredients/quantities shown on the label and are free of banned substances.

  • Open Can I take fish oil while pregnant?

    If you are considering taking a supplement, it’s important to contact a trusted health care advisor to discuss whether the supplement is right for you, especially if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

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Drinking Water Treatment

  • 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 How can I reduce the lead in my drinking water?

    Access our database of NSF certified water treatment systems and select Lead Reduction from the third, fifth or sixth group of contaminants. Although no whole-house systems are currently certified for treatment of lead, many certified systems can be installed at the main drinking water source in a home, usually the kitchen sink. Systems that are NSF certified for lead reduction can reduce 150 ppb (0.150 mg/L) of lead to less than 10 ppb (0.010 mg/L) in the treated water.

  • Open How can I reduce arsenic in my drinking water?

    Access our database of NSF certified water treatment systems and select one of the Arsenic Reduction claims that appear in the third, fifth or sixth group of contaminants. Although no whole-house systems are currently certified for treatment of arsenic, many systems can be installed at the main drinking water source in a home, usually the kitchen sink.

    Many home water treatment systems are certified only for reduction of arsenic-5 (pentavalent arsenic). If you are unsure which type of arsenic is present in your water and choose a product certified to reduce arsenic-5 only, you may want to test a sample of the water produced by the system to ensure successful arsenic reduction. If you’re arsenic-5 certified system does not significantly reduce your arsenic level, it could mean you have arsenic-3 in your well water. Arsenic-3 can be converted to arsenic-5 through the installation of a chlorinator.

  • Open Does NSF test for BPA in home water treatment systems?

    All NSF certified water treatment systems undergo material safety testing as well as performance testing for reduction of impurities. Because American National Standards do not prohibit the use of BPA in plastics used to construct water treatment systems, consumers need to contact the manufacturer directly to ascertain whether an ingredient such as BPA is used. If BPA is used in any water treatment product that NSF tests, we conduct a material safety test to ensure that this compound and any others that might be introduced by the system are not present at unsafe levels in the treated water.

  • Open How do I get a copy of my community's annual water quality report (CCR)?

    Annual water quality reports or CCRs are usually available directly from a community’s water supplier. These reports contain information related to the source of a community’s water supply along with a list of treatment additives (chlorine, fluoride, etc.) as well as impurities that remain in the water after treatment. Check with your local government offices to see if copies of the most recent water quality report are available in print or online.

  • Open Can hardness affect the performance of a reverse osmosis system?

    Scaling can be a problem for reverse osmosis (RO) systems. If water is very hard, the concentration of hardness ions can cause minerals to precipitate and foul the membrane. While we do not evaluate RO systems to determine the maximum hardness level at which they can efficiently function, most manufacturers set a maximum hardness level for their systems. Consult the product literature for any RO system you are considering to confirm if any usage restrictions have been established, such as pre-treatment for hardness. Disclosure of this type of information is required for systems that are certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 58.

  • Open Which water treatment system is rated the best?

    Since no product can protect against all impurities, it isn’t possible to easily rate or compare water treatment systems. Instead, the focus of our program is to evaluate samples of a company’s products to confirm they meet American National Standards for design and construction, as well as to verify if the product can reduce the contaminants claimed by the manufacturer. In addition, we review product literature and packaging to ensure accurate information about the product is provided.

  • Open What contaminants are present in my local water supply?

    If you have water supplied by a public or private water utility, visit your city’s website or call the local water department to request a copy of the most recent annual water quality report. This report indicates the source of your community’s water supply, the treatment chemicals used (chlorine, chloramines, fluoride) and any impurities that remain in the water after treatment. If you have a private well, check with your local health department for a list of contaminants of regional concern as well as available water testing services.

    If any reported contaminants are of specific concern to you, you can check the NSF online database for products certified to address those impurities.

  • Open What does NSF certification of home water treatment systems cover?

    NSF certification of home water treatment covers four major areas:

    1. Structural integrity. Systems (and some components such as housings) intended for direct connection to a water service undergo pressure testing to confirm they won’t crack or leak when installed on a pressurized water line.
    2.  
    3. Material safety. Certified systems (and components such as filter media and housings) undergo extraction testing to determine if they introduce any impurities into the water that could pose a health risk. American National Standards limit the amount of impurities that certified systems can introduce based on U.S. EPA or Health Canada drinking water standards, whichever is more strict.
    4.  
    5. Performance testing. We test assembled systems to verify that the finished product is effective at reducing the contaminants claimed on the product label. Testing is done on a pass/fail basis.
    6.  
    7. Label claims. We also verify the accuracy of product packaging and labeling to confirm it does not contain any untrue or misleading statements. We verify that percentage reduction claims on the product packaging match our official test results.
  • Open What are efficiency ratings for water softeners?

    Efficiency ratings are calculated based on capacity testing.  It requires at least 3,350 grains of capacity per pound of salt used for regeneration, and no more than 5 gallons of regeneration water per 1,000 grains of capacity. Not all water softeners meet this requirement, and it isn’t required under NSF/ANSI 44 for water softener certification. It is an optional claim that can be made if the system qualifies. The product literature indicates whether the softener is efficiency rated.

  • Open How much lead must certified water filters reduce?

    Under NSF/ANSI home water treatment standards, products making a lead reduction claim must meet two standards. First, they must pass a lead reduction test run at 6.5 pH to measure performance for dissolved lead. A second test is run at 8.5 pH to determine if the product is also effective at reducing particulate lead. In both cases, the product must be able to reduce 150 ppb (0.150 mg/L) of lead to less than 10 ppb (0.010 mg/L) to earn certification for lead reduction. If it passes one test but not the other, NSF does not certify the product for lead reduction.

  • Open Are non-salt softeners effective at treating hardness?

    We do not currently certify the claims of non-salt systems to control scale buildup inside pipes and appliances. The only systems currently certified for hardness reduction are salt-based water softeners. To be certified as a water softener, these systems are tested to ensure they can reduce 20 gpg of hardness to less than 1 gpg in the finished water while meeting minimum structural integrity and material safety requirements. Access our database of NSF certified water softeners and select Hardness Reduction in the second group of contaminants.

  • Open Are there any water treatment systems certified to reduce pharmaceutical drug residues?

    While NSF certified water treatment systems can help protect against many impurities, there are no products currently certified to reduce pharmaceuticals in the incoming drinking water supply. We are helping to lead a task force looking into the issue of whether home water treatment systems might be effective against specific classes of pharmaceutical drugs, but it will be several months before certification testing will be available.

  • Open Where can I buy a replacement filter for my water system?

    As an independent certification organization, we are not involved in the manufacture or sale of any of the products that we certify. Contact the manufacturer of your water treatment system directly to find out where replacement filters are sold. To ensure ongoing performance, it’s important to use the correct manufacturer’s replacement cartridge identified in the owner’s manual. Failure to do so could result in the system leaking or not reducing contaminants effectively.

  • Open Is it safe to drink water that has been processed through a reverse osmosis system?

    While NSF tests home water treatment systems to help confirm their ability to meet American National Standards for material safety and/or the ability to reduce contaminants in drinking water, we are not involved in conducting studies to determine if drinking one type of water offers any nutritional benefits. Contact a trusted health care provider for further information about the health benefits of drinking water or other types of beverages.

  • Open Can you recommend a travel filter?

    NSF does not currently certify travel filters or those products that claim to take water of unknown origin and make it safe for consumption, so we cannot advise if any products on the market might offer protection against waterborne diseases when traveling. Contact the manufacturers of such products to see if they can refer you to an independent testing organization that has evaluated their system to learn under what conditions and for what types of organisms/impurities the product was verified.

    Boiling water for two to three minutes at a good rolling boil is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another option to help protect against waterborne diseases while traveling is to purchase NSF certified bottled water products, if available.

  • Open If a product uses NSF certified components, is that the same as being NSF certified?

    Component testing is generally limited to a review for either structural integrity or material safety. In general, no performance testing is conducted on components, but rather on finished systems, i.e. a filter cartridge or membrane inside of a housing. If you are concerned about a product’s contaminant reduction capability, contact the manufacturer to ask who tested the system for performance and then contact that organization to verify if the system was tested and certified to be effective against the contaminants it claims to reduce. A searchable database of NSF certified water treatment systems is available online.

  • Open Are there any refrigerator or faucet filters that filter copper?

    While there no refrigerator or faucet mount filters are currently certified for reduction of copper, other options for treating excessive copper levels include water pitchers, reverse osmosis systems that install under the kitchen sink or distillation systems.

    Copper can either occur naturally or leach from copper plumbing. If you are unsure of the copper source, have the pH level of your home’s water supply tested. If the pH of the water supply is below 6.5, your water is considered acidic, and this could be the source of the problem. If you determine that copper is leaching from your household pipes, a pH correction (acid neutralizer) system may be needed. Although NSF does not certify these units, they are available from many home water treatment companies and well drilling businesses.

  • Open Is there fluoride in well water?

    It is possible for well water to contain naturally occurring fluoride. To determine if any fluoride is present, have a sample of the well water tested. Many local health departments can assist in obtaining a list of labs in the area that offer drinking water testing.

  • Open Do water softeners remove contaminants or just treat hardness?

    A traditional water softener system uses a cation exchange resin that attracts positively charged ions to its surface. These ions include calcium and magnesium which together cause hardness. However, iron, radium and barium may also be attracted to some water softener resins. Check with the system’s manufacturer to determine if the unit is certified for reduction of any impurities beyond hardness.

  • Open What is causing the green tint around some of the drains in my bathroom?

    A green tint usually indicates the presence of copper in the home’s water supply. While copper can be naturally occurring, it is also possible that the pH of the water could be low enough to be causing copper to leach from the home’s pipes. To determine if this might be the problem, have the pH of the water tested. If the pH is below 6.5, the water is considered acidic, which is a common cause of copper leaching. Acid neutralizer systems are available to help raise the pH of water by adding more minerals to the incoming water supply, thus increasing alkalinity.

    To reduce excessive copper in drinking water supplies, several water treatment systems can be used, including water filters, reverse osmosis systems and distillation. A list of drinking water treatment systems that are certified for reduction of copper is available on the NSF website.

  • Open How can I find a reliable water testing laboratory to test my tap water?

    If your home is served by a public water system, you might want to get a copy of your annual water quality report before testing your water. This report identifies the source of your community’s water supply along with a list of treatment additives and any contaminants remaining in the treated water. After reviewing this report, you may wish to test for specific contaminants (such as lead or copper) that can vary from house to house. Water testing laboratories are generally regulated by the state in which they are located. Contact your state or local health department for a list of state-accredited labs in your area.

  • Open What does cyst reduction mean?

    Cyst reduction refers to the ability of the product to reduce Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Toxaplasma and Entomoeba parasites that are sometimes present in water. To earn certification, a product must reduce 99.95 percent of the test organisms.

    Cysts are a form of parasites that can be found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, including people. They are more resistant to the effects of chlorine than bacteria, so the U.S. EPA recommends that people with compromised immune systems use a filter certified for cyst reduction if their water supply comes from a surface water source. Search for NSF certified filters in the NSF online listings by selecting Cyst Reduction from the third or fifth group of contaminants.

  • Open Are any water treatment systems certified to reduce uranium?

    Currently, no systems are specifically NSF certified to reduce uranium. However, many reverse osmosis systems (RO) are certified to reduce a by-product of decaying uranium, radium 226/228. Systems certified for reduction of combined radium may also be effective at reducing uranium. To confirm the uranium reduction occurring with your specific system, have a sample of the RO-processed water tested by a state-accredited laboratory.

  • Open What is the best way to eliminate bacteria from water?

    To search our database of NSF certified water treatment systems for systems verified to protect against bacteria, select either Ultraviolet Microbiological Water Treatment Systems (NSF 55) or Microbiological Water Purifiers (NSF P231) from the Product Standard dropdown list. While chlorination also helps destroy bacteria, NSF does not currently certify such systems for home use.

  • Open How far should my septic system be from my water well system?

    Most states require septic systems to be a minimum of 50 feet away from a home’s well. Check with your local or state health department to determine the minimum distance required for homes in your area.

  • Open How often should a private well be disinfected?

    Private wells should be disinfected when they are first placed into service as well as whenever any maintenance is done, e.g. after replacing the pump. Most health departments recommend that private wells be tested annually for the presence of bacteria and nitrates. If a water test shows that coliform bacteria are present, disinfect your well or have a well water professional disinfect it, and then re-test the water to ensure no bacteria remain.

  • Open We found coliform and E.coli in our well water. What should we do?

    When coliform bacteria are detected in a well water supply, the well needs to be disinfected, usually through chlorination. You can have a well service company perform this procedure or do it yourself. Instructions for chlorinating a private well are available through the Wellcare Hotline. After the chlorination process is complete and all water lines are thoroughly flushed to remove all traces of chlorine, perform another water test to confirm that the disinfection process worked.

  • Open What does NSF/ANSI 42 rated for chloramine reduction mean?

    To earn certification under NSF/ANSI 42 for chloramine reduction, samples of a product are performance tested to confirm that they are able to reduce 3.0 mg/L of chloramines to less than 0.5 mg/L for the service cycle promised by the manufacturer. The system must also meet minimum standards for structural integrity and material safety.

    Search for products that are NSF certified for chloramine reduction in our online database by selecting Chloramine Reduction in the first group of contaminants.

  • Open Why are filters certified to NSF/ANSI 42 and 53 certified to reduce different contaminants?

    There isn’t a minimum number of contaminants for which products must be effective in order to be certified under NSF/ANSI 42 or 53. Rather, certification under these standards helps confirm that a product is capable of reducing the contaminants being claimed on the product label while meeting minimum standards for structural integrity and material safety.

    Because water quality can vary widely from one community to the next, before purchasing a system we encourage you to research the water quality in your area. If you live in the U.S. and receive water from a public or private water utility, you should receive an annual water quality report that details the source of your water, what treatment additives are used and what impurities remain in the water after treatment. Based on this information, you can search the NSF online database for a list of water treatment systems certified to address the largest number of impurities detected locally.

  • Open Are any shower filters certified to reduce/remove TTHMs?

    No shower filters are certified to reduce trihalomethanes (TTHMs) or other forms of volatile organic chemicals at this time. Shower filters are currently NSF certified only for chlorine reduction.

  • Open I had my water tested and the pH was low. How can I fix this problem?

    Acid neutralizing systems typically use either a filter media or an additive such as lime or soda ash that introduces more minerals into the water, thus increasing alkalinity and boosting pH. Although NSF International does not certify these types of systems, you can check with local well drilling or water treatment companies to see if they offer such units.

  • Open Is exposure to arsenic from bathing a concern?

    The primary mode of exposure to arsenic is through the ingestion of water containing arsenic, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Further information about potential health concerns related to arsenic in drinking water is available from the EPA website.

  • Open How do I sanitize my reverse osmosis unit?

    Check your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer of your system directly to request instructions for cleaning and sanitizing your unit. Because product designs vary, each manufacturer sets its own recommendations regarding what cleaning/sanitizing agents and procedures work best for the specific unit.

  • Open How can I reduce radium 226/228 without removing too many minerals?

    Water treatment technologies certified to reduce radium 226/228 include salt-based water softeners and reverse osmosis. Check the NSF online listings for NSF certified systems. Both of these technologies also reduce other minerals such as calcium and magnesium to some extent. In the case of cation exchange (salt-based) water softeners, the sodium content of the water also increases somewhat.

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Food Safety

  • Open To what temperature should foods be reheated so that they are safe to eat?

    Previously cooked foods, including foods containing previously cooked ingredients, need to be reheated until the internal temperature reaches at least 165° F.

  • Open What is the best way to defrost frozen foods?

    Never try to thaw frozen foods at room temperature, as this could allow dangerous bacteria to grow on the food surfaces as they warm. Instead, use one of the following methods to safety thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.

    If using a refrigerator, place the food in a container on the lowest shelf so that raw juices cannot drip on to other foods. If using cold water to thaw food such as a turkey, place the wrapped turkey in a large pan with cool water, replacing the water every 30 minutes until the food is thawed. Many frozen raw foods can also be thawed in the microwave. However, only use the cold water and microwave methods if you plan to immediately cook the food.

  • Open How long can foods be safely left out of the refrigerator?

    Perishable cooked foods should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours of being cooked, or one hour on very hot days (those over 90° F). To help speed cooling, divide larger quantities of food into several smaller, shallow containers.

  • Open Are cookware products with coatings safe to use?

    NSF certification of cookware involves a thorough review to ensure the product meets voluntary American National Standards for design, construction, materials and cleanability. The materials used on the interior surfaces of the cookware must meet U.S. standards for direct contact with food. Cookware with coatings also undergoes abrasion testing to ensure the coatings will not flake off and adulterate food.

  • Open Are certified food storage containers safe for microwave use?

    NSF International does not test food storage containers to determine their suitability for cooking or reheating foods in a microwave. Rather, our certification confirms if the container meets voluntary American National Standards for design, construction, materials and cleanability. Contact the manufacturer of the container directly for further information about microwave or dishwasher safety.

  • Open Are certified food storage containers free of BPA?

    NSF certification of food equipment involves a review of the product to ensure it meets voluntary American National Standards. Our evaluation process for food storage containers includes a review of the container to ensure it meets minimum design and construction requirements as well as cleanability standards. As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently prohibit the use of BPA in food equipment, it’s possible that some of the products that NSF certifies could have been produced from raw materials containing this ingredient. If you’re concerned about the presence of BPA, contact the product manufacturer directly to inquire whether BPA is used as an ingredient in any of its products.

  • Open Does NSF certification of food equipment address electrical or fire safety?

    NSF/ANSI food equipment standards do not have provisions to address issues related to mechanical, electrical or fire safety. Rather, NSF certification addresses sanitation and food safety aspects. Check with the product manufacturer to determine if the product has been reviewed for non-sanitation concerns.

  • Open How do residential dishwashers differ from commercial dishwashers?

    Residential dishwashers certified to NSF/ANSI 184 must meet the same sanitizing requirement as their commercial counterparts tested and certified under NSF/ANSI 3, e.g. equivalent to a 5-log or 99.999 percent reduction of bacteria. The major difference between the two standards is the final minimum rinse temperature requirement. For residential units, the minimum final rinse temperature is 150° F, compared to 180° F for most commercial units.

  • Open What is the difference between an NSF certified hot dog cart and one that is not?

    Hot dog carts that are NSF certified have been evaluated by NSF International to verify that they meet minimum public health standards for design, construction, materials and cleanability. A list of the carts that have earned NSF certification can be found in our online listings under NSF/ANSI 59 – Mobile Food Carts. Carts that are not certified to this standard may not be designed in a way that protects public health. For example, gaps or openings could be too large and allow pests to infiltrate, or food handling surfaces may not be easily cleanable or produced from materials that are recognized as being safe for food contact.

  • Open Where can I find spare parts for my NSF certified shelving system?

    As an independent certification organization, NSF International is not involved in the manufacture or sale of shelving units that display our mark. Rather, the presence of our mark on a product means that it meets applicable national standards for protection of public health.

    Contact information for manufacturers of NSF certified shelving systems is available in the NSF online listings. If a product is produced overseas and you are having difficulty contacting the manufacturer directly, check your owner’s manual or contact the store where you purchased the product for assistance.

  • Open Are aluminum cookware pots and pans safe to use?

    NSF certification of cookware and other food equipment involves a review of the product to ensure it meets voluntary American National Standards for design, construction and cleanability.

    Only certain aluminum alloys are considered acceptable for contact with food. Part of the NSF certification process is making sure that the aluminum or other materials used in the product’s construction meet current food safety standards for direct contact with food. If coatings are used, they must undergo abrasion testing to ensure they will not flake off and adulterate food. Search for NSF certified cookware in the NSF online listings.

  • Open I've read that it isn't safe to cook stuffing inside a turkey. Is that true?

    Not only is it harder to cook a stuffed turkey, there is an increased risk of foodborne illness if the stuffing doesn’t get cooked thoroughly. If you do choose to stuff a turkey, take measures to help ensure it gets cooked properly. Do not put the stuffing in the turkey until just before placing it in the oven. Place the stuffing loosely in the cavity and don’t try to overstuff — this allows the heat to penetrate the cavity and cook the stuffing uniformly with the rest of the turkey. Cook a stuffed turkey until both the turkey itself and the center of the stuffing have reached at least 165° F.

  • Open How can I help make sure my turkey is cooking evenly?

    In general, an unstuffed turkey cooks more uniformly than a stuffed turkey.  To help promote more even cooking, make sure the turkey is completely thawed before cooking and place it in a covered pan or cover it with aluminum foil. To be sure your turkey is thoroughly cooked, use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature in multiple spots, including the innermost part of the thigh, the wing and the thickest part of the breast. The temperature at all three locations, as well as in the stuffing, needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 165° F.

  • Open Can I trust the pop-up timer in my turkey to tell me when my turkey is done?

    Since pop-up timers are only placed in one spot on the turkey, they may only indicate doneness in that particular area. To ensure the turkey is properly cooked throughout, it is important to check doneness at multiple points with a certified meat thermometer.

  • Open How can I avoid cross-contamination during holiday dinner preparations?

    In addition to frequent handwashing, there are several other tips you can follow to reduce the chance of cross-contamination during your holiday dinner preparations:

    1. When switching from one food to the next, wash your hands as well as any cutting boards, knives or other utensils.
    2.  
    3. Do not place uncooked, unwrapped poultry such as a turkey directly on a counter or in the sink. If any raw meat juices touch food preparation surfaces, be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize the area before moving on to another activity.
    4.  
    5. If thawing a turkey in the refrigerator, place the turkey in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf to prevent raw juices from dripping on to other foods.
  • Open What is the biggest food safety danger at holiday gatherings?

    One of the biggest dangers at holiday gatherings is the tendency to lose track of time and let food sit out at room temperature for more than two hours, which can promote the growth of bacteria. Whether you are serving a buffet or traditional sit-down meal, follow these guidelines so that food stays safe:

    1. Don’t let foods sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the table and discard any perishable foods that have been sitting out for two hours or more.
    2.  
    3. Hot foods should be held at 140° F or warmer. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays to help keep foods warm if necessary.
    4.  
    5. Cold foods should be held at 40° F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice.
    6.  
    7. Always serve food on clean plates. Replace empty platters rather than add fresh food to a dish that already had food in it.
  • Open Does brining a turkey help prevent food poisoning because of its high salt content?

    Although brining can help make a delicious and moist turkey, it does not help prevent food poisoning, according to the USDA. Brining is similar to marinating and is a personal taste preference, but all normal food safety cooking guidelines (e.g. proper handling, cooking to a minimum internal temperature of 165° F, etc.) still apply.

  • Open Is it okay to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator?

    Although a properly operating refrigerator should be able to handle the placement of hot foods inside, you can help promote cooling by separating large quantities of leftovers into small containers, leaving lids slightly ajar until the food has fully cooled.

  • Open Is it safer to use pre-packaged foods or to cook stuffing from scratch?

    When cooking or reheating prepackaged foods, it is important to ensure that the food is cooked or reheated to the proper internal temperature to destroy foodborne pathogens. When cooking foods from scratch, choose your ingredients carefully and if perishable, keep them stored in the refrigerator until just before they are needed. If you are creating a dish that will require further cooking, keep the dish in the refrigerator until just before placing on the stove top or in the oven. Don’t use the microwave to thaw or partially cook foods unless you plan to transfer them to another heat source to finish cooking immediately.

  • Open What's the best way to package leftovers for food safety and preservation?

    The most important thing when packaging leftovers is to get them down to a safe storage temperature as quickly as possible. If you don’t plan to eat the leftovers within three days, it’s best to freeze them. Storing leftovers in vacuum-sealed containers can help prevent freezer burn, while using tightly sealed containers in the refrigerator can help prevent accidental spillage as well as reduce the chance that odors from other foods will affect the food’s quality.

  • Open Is it okay to use my sanitizing dishwasher during a boil water alert?

    As dishwashers do not heat water to the boiling point, but rather usually to somewhere between 145° F and 160° F, it’s best not to use them during a boil water alert. While exposing dishes to such temperatures for a pre-determined period is known to be sufficient to achieve sanitization of dishes when the incoming water supply is potable, no testing is conducted to determine how effective they might be when the incoming water supply has been deemed unsafe for consumption.

  • Open Can uncooked meat be refrozen?

    Uncooked meat that was properly thawed in the refrigerator and whose internal temperature never exceeded 41° F can usually be refrozen. If you thawed the frozen meat in the microwave or otherwise started cooking the meat, you must complete the cooking process, and then freeze any unused meat portions for later use. You should never partially cook and then re-freeze raw meats.

  • Open Are all NSF/ANSI 7 certified refrigerators verified to store the same types of food?

    NSF/ANSI 7 covers all types of refrigerators, including those intended for storing potentially hazardous food as well as those intended for storing non-potentially hazardous products such as soda and bottled water. Any restrictions on the types of items that can be stored in a particular unit are noted in the official NSF listings for that model. NSF also requires any usage restrictions to be noted on a permanently affixed label on the refrigerator or freezer unit itself.

  • Open How long can you keep hamburger patties in the freezer?

    The recommended average storage time for most frozen ground meats is three to four months. Assuming that the patties in question were properly processed, handled and kept stored at 0° F or less, the issue would not be safety but rather quality, which deteriorates the longer meat is stored. Processed meats have a slightly shorter recommended storage time of one to two months, while poultry storage times are a little longer (six months).

  • Open Once meat has thawed, how soon must you cook it?

    Meat that is thawed in the refrigerator should be cooked within two to three days from its removal from the freezer. Meat that was thawed in cold water (placing wrapped meat in a pan of cold water) or in the microwave should be cooked right away.

  • Open Is it possible to get existing restaurant kitchen equipment NSF certified?

    It isn’t possible to certify equipment already in place in a restaurant. Certification is a process that starts at the factory and includes a facility audit and testing of samples of individual pieces of equipment to determine if the equipment complies with the design, construction, material, cleanability and performance requirements of applicable voluntary American National Standards for protection of public health. While it is possible to conduct a field inspection of equipment, it does not result in certification of the equipment.

  • Open How long is the rinse cycle in a dishwasher certified to NSF/ANSI 184?

    Although NSF/ANSI 184 does not include a minimum or maximum rinse cycle time frame, it does include a physical test that monitors and records temperatures at the surface of test dishes to confirm that the rinse cycle stays within a specified range for long enough to achieve to a 5-log or 99.999 percent reduction of bacteria. This performance test for residential units is the same as the one in NSF/ANSI 3 for commercial dishwashers.

  • Open What materials are approved for restaurant countertops in the kitchen area?

    Generally, construction materials used for food prep surfaces in kitchens subject to public health inspections need to comply with FDA 21 CFR regulations. Options might include specific grades of stainless steel as well as one or more surface certified as “food zone” applications under NSF/ANSI 35 or NSF/ANSI 51. Search for certified work and counter surfaces in the NSF online listings (www.nsf.org/certified/food) by selecting either NSF/ANSI 35 - High Pressure Decorative Laminates for Surfacing Food Service Equipment or NSF/ANSI 51 - Food Equipment Materials.

  • Open Is there a list of NSF/ANSI 3 certified dishwashers?

    Search for commercial dishwashers certified to NSF/ANSI 3 in the NSF online listings by selecting NSF/ANSI 3 - Commercial Warewashing Equipment.

  • Open What sealant is safest for granite kitchen countertops?

    NSF International has not certified any granite countertop sealers at this time. Generally, we recommend following the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and protecting countertops. Use a barrier (i.e. cutting board, plate, etc.) between your food and countertop surface unless your countertop is certified for direct food contact under NSF/ANSI 51 or the fabricator has provided documentation that the countertop material meets FDA 21 CFR regulations for direct contact with food.

  • Open My certified oven thermometer stopped working. What should I do?

    As an independent certification organization, NSF International is not involved in the manufacture of thermometers that bear our certification mark. We encourage contacting the product manufacturer directly to see if it can replace the thermometer. If the contact information isn’t on the packaging, you can use NSF’s online database (www.nsf.org/certified/food) to see if we list an address, phone number or website for that company.

  • Open Where can I find a list of NSF certified kitchen flooring materials?

    NSF International does not currently certify flooring materials for use in food service applications (though we do certify resilient and hard surface/tile flooring to sustainability standards. Rather, the type of products that NSF certifies for commercial food operations include cabinetry, work surfaces, sinks, utensils, cookware, appliances, food storage containers and other similar food handling equipment. Check with your local health department to see what flooring options are acceptable in your community.

  • Open Is it safe to make soup out of turkey and broth left on the counter over night?

    Any perishable food products that have been left out at room temperature for more than two hours should be disposed of. Bacteria can grow very rapidly at temperatures between 40° and 140° F, so to avoid foodborne illness, keep food out of this “danger zone” and don’t consume any foods that have been sitting at temperatures within this zone for more than two hours.

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Miscellaneous

  • Open Where can I get a certificate confirming a product is NSF certified?

    NSF International doesn’t issue certificates or other documents as proof of NSF certification for most individual products. Rather, proof of NSF certification is provided by listing the product on our website. Because certification is an ongoing process that must be renewed annually, our online listings change daily.

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

    As an independent certification organization, NSF International cannot provide a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for any product we evaluate. 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 What do the letters NSF stand for?

    The letters in our organization’s name do not represent any specific words today. NSF International was founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation. The name of our organization was changed to NSF International in 1990 when the National Sanitation Foundation and NSF Testing Labs merged. A brief history of the NSF organization is available on our website.

  • Open Where can I purchase a product that I saw on your website?

    NSF International does not manufacture, sell or distribute products. As an independent certification organization, we evaluate samples of products to determine whether they meet voluntary standards for protection of public health. If you are interested in purchasing a product that appears on the NSF website or that claims to have NSF certification, contact the product’s manufacturer directly for assistance in locating a supplier.

  • Open How does certification differ from product testing?

    NSF certification helps verify that a product meets voluntary national standards for protection of public health. Depending on the product, this can range from testing for material safety (e.g. plumbing-related products) to content (e.g. dietary supplements) to performance (e.g. home water treatment systems). Unlike product testing, certification is not a one-time event. Rather, it is an ongoing process that involves audits of a company’s production facility(ies) along with regular testing of product samples to confirm their continued compliance with the most current version of the applicable American National Standard.

  • Open Do you certify manufacturers or products?

    In most cases, NSF International certifies individual products, not manufacturers. As a result, not all products produced by a single manufacturer may be NSF certified. In addition, if a company produces the same product at multiple locations, the products produced at each production facility undergo a separate review and certification. This is why you may see multiple facility locations for the same product in the NSF online listing.

    In addition to product testing services, NSF also offers facility registration services to help manufacturers verify compliance with a wide array of production standards, including good manufacturing practices (GMPs). Facility registrations do not include product testing, so the products produced at registered facilities are not considered NSF certified unless they underwent separate testing.

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Organic

  • Open What does the term organic mean?

    Organic refers to how a product is produced, i.e. without using conventional pesticides, irradiation or fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or bioengineering. For example, organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products can only be produced from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones and are fed 100 percent organic feed. Organic doesn’t necessarily mean that a product is free of something, but rather that it has been produced without using prohibited methods.

  • Open Can products imported from other countries be certified organic under U.S. standards?

    The USDA allows agricultural products grown outside the U.S. to be sold as organic in the U.S. provided they meet the stringent requirements of the National Organic Program (NOP) and are certified by a USDA-accredited certifier. Foreign companies that grow and process organic products for sale in the U.S. must meet the same requirements as U.S.-based organic farmers, including undergoing onsite audits by a USDA-accredited certifying agent (ACA) to confirm that the organic practices detailed in the company’s documentation are actually occurring at the site and that they comply with NOP requirements. The USDA has ACAs in many countries outside the U.S. that help verify requirements of the NOP are being met, and NSF works with these certifiers to help ensure that organic food is truly organic.

  • Open Are organic products completely free of pesticide residues?

    Although certified organic products must be grown, processed and handled according to strict standards without the use of pesticides or other synthetic chemicals, it is possible for organic crops to be inadvertently exposed to agricultural chemicals, such as those present in rain or ground water, or in soil previously used for non-organic farming. To help limit the impact of non-organic agricultural practices, National Organic Program (NOP) standards set strict requirements, including requiring buffer zones between conventional and organic growing fields and storage of organic products above conventional products on shelves to avoid cross contamination.

  • Open Are products certified as organic also GMO free?

    To bear an organic label in the U.S., a product needs to have been 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, NOP regulations require organic farmers to follow practices such as creating buffer zones between their own farms and neighboring farms that use conventional farming methods.

  • Open What does certified organic really mean?

    For a product to be certified organic in the U.S., the operations that produce the organic agricultural ingredients, the handlers of these agricultural ingredients and the manufacturer of the final product must all be certified by a USDA-accredited organic certifying agent. The National Organic Program (NOP) requires that organic products be grown or handled according to strict standards without the use of pesticides or other synthetic chemicals, irradiation, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or bioengineering. Only those substances on the NOP’s approved list can be used. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products must come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones and are fed 100 percent organic feed. Other organic products certified under USDA standards, including personal care products, must not only be produced from organic ingredients, but the production processes and specifications used in the product’s development must all meet NOP requirements.

  • Open What types of products can become certified organic?

    Any agricultural product that meets certification requirements may be considered organic. Organic products can include foods ranging from canned products to fresh produce, meats, poultry and bakery products, to beverages including juices and milk, to dietary supplements and even personal care products.

  • Open What's the difference between “organic” and “made with organic” label claims?

    Products labeled as “100 percent organic” can only contain organically produced ingredients and processing aids (excluding water and salt). If the label says “organic,” the organic content must be at least 95 percent by weight (excluding water and salt). If the label says “made from organic ingredients,” the product must contain between 70 and 95 percent organic content. Products containing less than 70 percent organic content cannot use the term organic anywhere on the principal display panel.

  • Open Are products labeled "all natural" the same as "organic?"

    The term “natural” generally means a product has been minimally processed or is free from synthetic ingredients. It doesn’t mean that the producers or handlers of the ingredients and/or finished product have been audited by an organic accrediting agency to confirm compliance with USDA National Organic Program standards. Other claims such as “free-range,” “hormone-free” and “all natural” can appear on product labels and should likewise not be confused with the term organic.

  • Open Can personal care products make organic label and marketing claims?

    If personal care products meet the requirements of the National Organic Program (NOP), they may be certified to the USDA standard.

    Personal care products that are not 100 percent organic but that contain organic ingredients can possibly be certified under NSF/ANSI 305: Organic Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients. This standard has very specific requirements for organic ingredient, material, process and production specifications. NSF/ANSI 305 allows for some limited chemical processing necessary to create personal care products. For example, soaps containing organic ingredients are permitted to undergo chemical processing known as saponification, without which these products would not lather. NSF/ANSI 305 requires that certified products state the exact percentage of organic content on the label.

  • Open How are organic eggs certified?

    For eggs to be certified organic, the chickens producing the eggs must be raised as organic from the second day of life. For their entire lifetime they must be given feed that has been certified 100 percent organic—no genetically modified or medicated foods are allowed. Any bedding materials that could be consumed by the chickens (e.g.. hay) must be organically grown as well. Animal drugs such as hormones and antibiotics are not permitted. Through onsite audits, the organic certifier ensures that all NOP regulations are being met, including confirming that the chickens have access to the outdoors as seasonally appropriate. NOP regulations do allow for short periods of temporary confinement, such as when there is reason for concern from predators or extreme weather conditions.

  • Open What is the shelf life of most organic products?

    Although organic certification doesn’t address the shelf life of a product, it does confirm that the organic product was grown, processed and handled in accordance with USDA National Organic Program (NOP) requirements.  Generally, shelf life estimates and storage recommendations are set by the manufacturers of each product or ingredient based on their experience with their specific products.

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Plumbing

  • Open Will products that are FDA approved also meet NSF/ANSI 61 requirements?

    Although the FDA doesn’t approve products, it does set standards for materials that come into contact with foods and beverages. When a company claims that its materials are FDA approved, it is most likely trying to indicate that its product is produced from materials that comply with FDA regulations for a specific end use, such as for contact with a beverage like juice or milk. This is not the same as NSF/ANSI 61 certification, which is based on EPA drinking water regulations. Under NSF/ANSI 61, products and materials undergo extraction testing to determine if any impurities are being introduced that could cause drinking water to become unsafe for consumption. The maximum allowed concentrations of impurities are based on U.S. EPA and/or Health Canada limits, whichever is stricter.

  • Open Are any household bleach products NSF certified for treating drinking water?

    Currently, there isn’t an easy way to distinguish which household-type bleach products are NSF certified under NSF/ANSI Standard 60. All NSF certified bleach products are grouped together under the chemical name Sodium hypochlorite on the NSF website.

    To find possible household bleach products, scan the list for those that are 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. You can then contact the company or check its website to see if its bleach products are sold at the retail level.

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

    Many years ago at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NSF worked with various public health and regulatory agencies to develop a standard for chemicals commonly used in the treatment of drinking water to help limit the potential introduction of impurities from these products. What resulted was NSF/ANSI Standard 60: Drinking Water Treatment Chemicals. While this American National Standard does not address the effectiveness of additives, it does establish requirements that limit the potential introduction of impurities from such products. Product users are responsible for ensuring that the product is achieving the desired end result.

  • Open Would H1 registration be equivalent to NSF/ANSI 60 certification?

    NSF H1 registration involves a review of a product’s formulation to determine if it meets U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements for use in food processing areas. No physical testing is performed to determine the product’s suitability for use in treating drinking water for human consumption. In contrast, NSF/ANSI Standard 60 requires actual exposure of products to drinking water to determine if the product introduces any impurities that might exceed allowed levels.

  • Open Are plastic pipes safe for drinking water use?

    Before using, it’s important to confirm that any pipe used in contact with drinking water be certified for compliance with NSF/ANSI 61. This American National Standard was developed at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish testing procedures for products and to limit the amount of impurities that pipes, faucets and other plumbing system components might introduce into drinking water.

    A list of NSF certified pipe products is available online at www.nsf.org/certified/pwscomponents as well as www.nsf.org/certified/plumbing. In the second database, use the Product Use menu to narrow your search to Potable Water - Pipe and Fittings (EXPW) and then select the desired material type from the appropriate menu.

     

  • Open Do products that claim to be lead free contain any lead?

    Beginning in January 2014, the lead content standards for plumbing products sold in the U.S. will be revised to require compliance with a weighted average lead content of 0.25 percent across all 50 states. A handful of states already require this level.

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Pools

  • Open Is copper ionization an effective method to disinfect pool water?

    Several companies have earned NSF certification for their disinfection systems, including copper or copper/silver ionization systems, ozone generators and ultraviolet disinfection systems. Search for NSF certified pool disinfection systems in the NSF online listings.

    Under NSF/ANSI 50, copper and copper/silver ionization systems are intended for supplemental disinfection of pool/spa water and need to be used in conjunction with small amounts of chlorine or bromine as indicated in the official listing for each product.

  • Open Does NSF have any sizing guidelines for salt generators?

    Annex I of NSF/ANSI 50 contains sizing guidelines for salt generators. The 2011 version of this standard recommends that salt generators be capable of producing no less than 3 pounds of chlorine per day/10,000 gallons for pools and 3 pounds per day/1,000 gallons for spas.

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Wastewater

  • Open How do I choose a composting toilet for a small on-farm office?

    The three types of composting toilet systems covered by NSF/ANSI 41 include:

    Day use park - Day-use park systems are intended for use in day parks, roadside stops and other similar settings where the percentage of urine events is estimated to be six times greater than the number of fecal events. Performance testing is conducted based on the number of total uses per day, not on the number of individual users.

    Residential use - These systems are generally intended for use in a home setting. Performance testing is conducted based on the assumption that the toilet will be used for an average of four urine events and 1.2 fecal events per day per household member.

    Cottage - These systems are intended for intermittent use in a cabin or cottage setting. Performance testing is based on the same event criteria per household member as for residential use units, but with the assumption that the unit will be used on average two consecutive days per week rather than seven.

    Search for companies that produce NSF certified composting toilets in the NSF online listings (by selecting Non-Liquid Saturated Treatment Systems (NSF/ANSI Standard 41) from the Product Standard dropdown menu.

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