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What Are NSF Standards and Why Are They Important?

What is the importance of NSF standards? How the NSF mark protects you and your family’s health. Learn more about our promise.

Cleanliness, our health and our family’s safety are always of the utmost importance - but even more so during the past two years. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it’s more crucial than ever to take measures to protect our health.

Just ask Jessica Evans, our Director of Standards Development at NSF. She’s the team leader who facilitates the development of standards for almost everything we touch in our lives — from the food we eat and the water we drink to the pots and pans we use to cook, our dishwashers, the vitamins we take, and the refrigerated storage for vaccines and medicines at health care facilities.

NSF standards contain the testing and validation steps that products need to comply with to obtain certification by an independent third party. They cover safety, quality, sustainability and/or performance. Kitchen products, for example, are tested to prevent foodborne illnesses, cross-contamination, and any other spread of germs and bacteria. Products that pass the test are certified with the NSF mark.

“Our family is always on the lookout for the NSF mark,” Jessica says. On a recent vacation, her 9-year-old twin daughters, Jocelyn and Mackenzie, watched when the chef at the omelet bar lifted the skillet. The girls were thrilled to point out that the pan had the NSF mark.

No product goes unnoticed in the Evans’ Michigan home, she says. “I make sure our vitamins have the certification mark. We’re on a well, so our drinking water quality is crucial for us to maintain. Our water filtration system is certified, of course. And don’t even bring up how strict I am about cleaning up properly after preparing to cook raw meat. Even my extended family members and friends are always texting me when they find the NSF mark on their products.”

NSF’s mission has always been to protect and improve human health. Manufacturers, regulators and consumers look to us to for public health standards and certifications that help safeguard food, water, consumer products and the environment. As an independent, accredited organization, NSF tests, audits and certifies products and systems and provides education and risk management. We have developed over 80 currently active and voluntary standards, and we bring together the right people that includes industry representatives, public health/regulatory officials and users/consumers.

A product with the NSF seal lets you know that the company complies with national safety standards and regulations and has undergone extensive testing. Our mark means that a product or system:

  • Complies with national (and in some cases international) safety standards and regulations
  • Has undergone extensive product testing and/or material analyses, including unannounced plant inspections
  • Has had every aspect of its development thoroughly evaluated before earning its certification

“The COVID-19 pandemic certainly has brought to light how important sanitation and health safety are,” says Jessica. “Companies that have their products tested and certified by NSF do so voluntarily, and it’s not a one-and-done thing; they are continuously monitored.”

Standards are essential to everyone around the globe, as they provide safety and health requirements for manufacturers and businesses where regulations don’t always exist.

You can tell if a product is NSF listed by finding the NSF mark on the label, the packaging or the product itself. We have developed the symbol associated with our name over the last 70 years, evolving it from a more intricately designed logo to the simple blue one used today. The primary NSF logo is the round blue mark with white lettering, and it simply means that a product has met basic NSF certification standards.

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