Restaurant Equipment Certifications Explained
While browsing KaTom’s virtual shelves of restaurant equipment, you’ve likely seen certification marks and acronyms from various organizations that test and certify commercial kitchen equipment and supplies for safety or sanitation. Below, you'll find an explanatory list of these certification marks. Although most of these certifications are also used in residential settings, they are discussed here in commercial and industrial terms. Many of these marks are accompanied by letters signifying certain countries or regions, such as C for Canada, EU for Europe, and US for United States.
Founded as the National Sanitation Foundation in 1944, NSF International adopted its current name in 1990 to better reflect the scope of its work as a worldwide health and safety organization. The mark today means that the restaurant equipment in question is designed and constructed to meet strict standards for sanitation, as the organization holds accreditations from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the International Accreditation Service (IAS), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).
NSF representatives inspect the facilities where products are made, as well as the products themselves to guarantee proper standards are met every step of the way. Some common features that help a product gain NSF approval are coved corners, smooth finishes, and pieces that can be removed without tools. To ensure certified facilities and products continue to meet expectations, annual inspections and re-evaluations are conducted. Because the NSF mark guarantees that the equipment is compliant with established standards, products and equipment with the NSF certification can be more desirable for use in commercial kitchens. The certification virtually guarantees the product will be compliant with health department rules and stocking a kitchen with approved pieces can boost its overall inspection scores.
UL (Formerly Underwriters Laboratories)
Formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories, UL was founded in 1894. According to its website, UL certifies facilities, products, processes, and systems in dozens of industries and in more than 100 countries, and offers auditing, inspection, testing, and other services. The standalone UL certification is often sought as a way to prove that a product can be safely used, but the company also offers certifications for sanitation (UL EPH), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), energy efficiency, recognized components (UR), and gas-fired equipment (UL Gas-Fired). As with NSF, products and facilities with UL certifications are subject to follow-up evaluations to verify that the requirements for the certifications are still being met.
Canadian Standards Association
Founded in 1919, the CSA is a group that provides standards and testing for products manufactured and/or marketed in Canada. CSA is accredited by organizations like ANSI and OSHA, as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE), and tests to standards accepted in the US and Canada. Products that earn the CSA mark have been tested for and meet energy efficiency, performance, and safety standards. The CSA mark is often applied to electric and gas-fired equipment.
CE is the abbreviated form of Conformité Européene, or European Conformity. The CE mark can commonly be found on equipment and other products manufactured in or for Europe. The mark is mandatory for products sold in the European Economic Area (EEA) that are listed under the New Approach Directive. The CE mark indicates that the products conform with certain manufacturing and safety requirements and allows them to be traded in the EEA. The CE mark can be obtained through a notified body, which an organization that has been accredited by the EU.
Most consumers in the residential, commercial, and industrial markets will recognize the ENERGY STAR name and logo. Experts at the agency, which is supported by the EPA and DOE, estimate the effort to certify equipment that is significantly more energy efficient than uncertified products has helped Americans save more than $362 billion in utility costs. To earn the ENERGY STAR distinction, products must be tested by a third party in an EPA-recognized lab. ENERGY STAR products are retested periodically, which means they must continue to meet standards and requalify for the certification when the standards are raised, which is done to reflect new technological advancements. Participation in the ENERGY STAR program is voluntary, but having the ENERGY STAR certification can make products more attractive for buyers in areas that offer program rebates, as well as those just looking to save on utility costs.
Electrical Testing Labs, or ETL, was founded by Thomas Edison before the turn of the 20th century and is now a part of Intertek. The company specializes in testing foodservice equipment for gas and electrical safety and sanitation based on standards provided by many of the groups we’ve already covered, including ANSI, CSA, NSF, and UL. ETL is an OSHA-recognized lab with accreditation from ANSI, IAS, and the SCC, and also provides consulting, inspection, and testing and analysis services. The ETL Listed mark certifies the product for safety, while the ETL Sanitation mark certifies for sanitation. These are valid throughout the United States and Canada, but ETL issues other certifications for international use, including the CE mark.
The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) provides testing for commercial refrigeration, kitchen ventilation, heating and cooling, and other equipment. Participation in the program is voluntary and manufacturers must apply for the certification, which is only awarded if the equipment meets established performance standards through testing. Finding the agency’s mark on a product means the buyer can trust that it will perform to the expectations laid out on spec sheets and other product information.