“NSF Certified” Explained
If you have been researching water treatment systems for your household, you might have encountered the mention of “NSF certified“. Some customers always ask whether or not a system is NSF certified. You are probably wondering if this certification is significant since manufacturers and consumers place so much emphasis on it. If you are not familiar with this, do not worry. After you read this guide, you will get a better understanding of the following:
- The independent organization called NSF International conducts testing
- How water treatment systems earn certification from the NSF
- Why this certification is significant, although not required
- If NSF certification should be important to you
Who Is NSF International?
NSF stands for the National Sanitation Foundation. Established in 1944, NSF International is a global organization that sets international standards around safety and public health issues in order to protect the lives of people in this world.
The goal of NSF is to test and audit products for their safety for human use. Products that pass their test are certified. This certification assures the public, both merchants and consumers, that the products sold meet the current quality standards set for food safety, sanitation, and public health.
The NSF is an independent organization and is not connected to any corporation or industry. The testing is conducted in an objective and unbiased method. Businesses cannot purchase this certification.
The organization includes world experts in health, microbiology, engineering, toxicology, and chemistry. With labs across the world, NSF is able to conduct comprehensive testing on products like equipment for foodservice and others. Their results are reliable, and they play a key role in setting safety standards for the products tested.
In addition to setting strict standards for public health and food safety, the NSF is also available to companies as consultants in risk management and in education and training for their employees.
NSF Certification for Water Treatment Products
The NSF tests and certifies products that deal with food and water, including water treatment systems. What does this certification tell you exactly?
When NSF certifies a water filtration system, it means the product has satisfied or exceeded the NSF’s official standards for that particular class of water treatment system. The same testing guidelines are applied to all filtration systems of a certain design or purpose, so all systems in this category are tested in exactly the same way.
Since certification is not required, a company can voluntarily pay a fee and send their products to the NSF for testing and certification. It is important to understand that they pay a fee to NSF to conduct the test only. It has no bearing on whether or not the product passes the test. The product will only earn NSF certification if it passes the established stringent standards. If they earn it, the company is allowed to advertise this achievement on their product.
During testing, the NSF considers the following factors:
- Quality and durability of the design
- Whether plastic components are free of BPA and BPS
- Whether the manufacturing environment is safe
- Results from manufacturer’s testing
- Accuracy of advertising and product labels
In other words, a product that has passed the testing from the NSF is certified safe for food applications, and it gets a stamp of approval. This extra assurance provides peace of mind to consumers that what they are purchasing has undergone comprehensive testing and is approved by an independent, official organization. This is also something that manufacturers find helpful in promoting their products.
Any company can claim that their product is effective and high in quality. However, if the product was not tested by an independent organization, how would a consumer really know if the filter can remove impurities? With the NSF certification, you know that the product has been tested by an unbiased organization and has met guidelines.
If you are interested in learning about the standards for water filters, you can find them on NSF’s website.
How Is Certification (NSF certified) Conducted
During the NSF certification process, the NSF puts the product or equipment through a number of tests to determine if the construction meets the standards set by NSF.
First, the manufacturer sends in a description of the equipment or product that they wish to test. The actual unit is sent to one of NSF’s official laboratories to be inspected and evaluated. From here, the unit will be rigorously tested to see if it meets the specific health and safety requirements set by NSF.
If the product gets NSF certified, it does not end here. In order to keep this certification, the NSA conducts a follow-up every year to audit the product and the manufacturing facility.
Certification from ANSI (American National Standards Institute)
If a product has an NSF/ANSI certification, it means the NSF and ANSI worked together to develop a set of certification guidelines for the water treatment industry commercially. ANSI is another independent, non-profit organization in the U.S. that sets standards for equipment, products, services, and manufacturing processes.
Why Do Manufacturers Seek Accreditation?
There are many reasons why companies want to earn the right to place the NSF trademark on their foodservice product. Here are some examples:
Earning Consumer’s Trust and Confidence
Manufacturers realize that when customers see the NSF logo on a product, they are more confident about buying it. When the logo is used in advertising materials, the company can legitimately say that its product has been evaluated to meet all safety guidelines based on independent testing.
Setting Themselves Apart From the Competition
There is a lot of competition in the water treatment industry. The NSF certification is fairly well-known among consumers, and they will automatically disregard any filtration product that does not have this certification because they would rather go with a product that has been legitimately tested for safety. Products that have this certification will move ahead of competing products that do not have this, and they can at least keep with other competitors who are certified.
Lends Legitimacy to New Companies
With so many water filtration products on the market, it is difficult for new companies to earn consumers’ trust. With an NSF certification logo on the product, the new company can at least reassure consumers that their product is equally safe and reliable as those of reputable competitors.
If A Water Filtration Product Does Not Have The NSF Logo, Is It Still Safe To Use?
An NSF certification is not required for filtration products to be sold. In fact, some of the largest, well-known companies do not send their products to the NSF for testing, so you will not see the NSF logo on their products.
What these companies sometimes do is print wording like “Tested To NSF Standards” on their ad materials. This is rather misleading because it alludes to testing by the NSF, but the product really had not been tested by the NSF. The fee charged by NSF for the official testing process is expensive. What some manufacturers will do is to pay a lesser fee to another organization to test their filters following the guidelines set by the NSF. So, the product might pass NSF guidelines, but the test was actually not done by the NSF. The testing company can be any business claiming that they can conduct reliable, independent testing, but consumers get no assurances of that. The only legitimate certification is from the NSF themselves.
If a product does not have the official certification from NSF but instead says that it was tested by a third party, you can at least find proof of the tests. The results should be available in an official report from the company. Contact the manufacturer if you want to see the report of the test results. It is still not the same as the official certification from the NSF, but it does give some level of information about the product.
If a product has no mention of any certification or tests being done at all, you should proceed with caution. Look for customer reviews that talk about the safety of the product. In addition, contact the manufacturer and ask why they did not send their product to the NSF to be certified.