June 2021

· 6 min read

Inside NSF: Our Consumer Guru Tells All

Meet NSF’s resident consumer guru, who shares the top tips and most popular questions consumers have about trying to lead safer, healthier lives.
Mindy Costello on MacBook screen - Inside NSF: Meet Our Consumer Information Specialist | NSF International

These are just some of the questions that pop up every day on our consumer hotline.

  • “What are PFAS, PFOS and other contaminants, and why should I be concerned if they are in my drinking water?”
  • “I’m ready to dive into spring cleaning, but what is the difference between cleaning and sanitizing? What are the secret spots I may be missing in my annual ritual?”
  • “I’m having my first BBQ of the season and have no clue how to use a meat thermometer. Can you help?”

As NSF’s consumer information expert, it’s my job, but also my passion, to answer all your questions — and help you and other consumers with the top-tested tips and equipment insights to create a safer, healthier life.

A life-long learner, I’ve always enjoyed subjects like hydrology, geology, microbiology and sustainability. Have questions? I’m your go-to person. Ask me the top 10 ways to use your food thermometer, and I can translate the science and help you wrap your mind around cooking safety and preventing foodborne illness. I love that I’ve been able to create a career in environmental health. Every day I’m finding ways to learn more and share the insights I’ve gained about public places, safety, health and the environment.

I also get that being a consumer is a tough job, shopping around for the best prices, trying to avoid product scams and figuring out if product labels really are fulfilling all the safety standards, they are promising. Magnify that in a pandemic when we were all locked down at home cooking, working and more focused on whether our water or food is really safe. It’s a tough world right now, but we’ve got the info you need.

It’s gratifying to be able to answer your questions through NSF’s consumer hotline. I also collaborate with our program and technical folks who work with companies that manufacture products and systems certified by NSF International. These manufacturers are genuinely concerned about your health and safety and the consumers they are selling to.

Talking with consumers, I hear what you are concerned about and want to help. Here are a few of our blog posts that you may find helpful:

Questions come from across the globe. In 2020, we had nearly 8,300 emails and phone calls from 69 different countries. Most were to confirm if a product was certified by NSF. (In some instances, the product was not certified by NSF so it is always a good idea to double check if you are in doubt.)

The most frequently asked question I get is: “Which water filter is best for me and my home?” Water is the hottest topic, especially in the pandemic when people are super concerned about things like UV wands (ultraviolet sanitizers), water contamination and COVID safety plans. People want to know about pipes, faucets and treatment chemicals.

Many of you are looking for advice on the safest supplements and vitamins for yourselves and your family members. We’re here to help.

No matter what your questions are, we take them very seriously. Here at NSF, we have a great team of technical experts who support our hotline enquiries.

"Through your questions, I’ve learned that people are NSF’s most valuable resource."

Guiding you is a crucial and significant part of our mission. With every new-to-me question that comes in, I do research to find the answers on regulatory websites or I tap our technical team and learn something every day.

Get your questions answered: Call our consumer hotline at +1 800 673 8010. or email info@nsf.org.

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