The OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification: Technically Speaking - Material Requirements
Building a robot that has stainless steel, unplated brass or even wood? Then you should read on.
One standard that can apply to commercial food equipment is NSF/ANSI 51-2017: Food Equipment Materials, which establishes minimum public health and sanitation requirements for materials used in the construction of the equipment. These requirements comply with the U.S. FDA Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.
Before explaining these requirements, let’s address a common misconception that, in order to be NSF certified, all materials and components that are part of a final product need to be NSF certified as well. This is not the case! NSF can qualify any non-listed materials and components if they meet the requirements noted below. However, using NSF certified materials and components can help reduce time and cost.
Materials in any zone, even if not in contact with food, must be:
Easily cleanable by hand (not via dishwasher)
Requirements for Materials in Direct Contact with Food
Nonmetals (plastics, rubbers)
Under NSF/ANSI 51, nonmetals need to meet FDA requirements for food contact and be easily cleanable by hand with simple cleaning tools (brush, cloth, sponge).
The standard also outlines specific types of metals and alloys that are acceptable for use. Certain types of metals have use restrictions:
Stainless steel must contain a minimum 16% of chromium to be considered corrosion resistant
Unplated brass can only be used in contact with (brewed) coffee, tea and water
Unplated copper can only be used in contact with water under constant pressure
Other Material Types
For materials other than metal, use restrictions vary by zone and often require certain performance tests to validate compliance, including:
Wood: Very limited uses in a food zone (e.g. cutting boards or bakers tables)
Glass: Must be impact resistant; use in the food zone is restricted
Organic Coatings (e.g. epoxy, paint, lacquer): FDA material requirements apply in a food zone; performance testing applies
Things to Consider
When potential suppliers claim they have “NSF certification,” it is vital to verify their claim and to which standard these are certified
The surface of 3D printed materials are not always easily cleanable
“Medical grade” material doesn’t necessarily mean it meets food contact requirements
When using NSF/ANSI 51 certified materials, the food contact types and temperatures should match your product’s end use
When selecting food equipment materials, choose wisely. The materials you use for your equipment could mean the difference between getting certified or not. Ready to learn more? Join us next week for information on cleanability and accessibility.
This article is part of the OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification. Visit ottomate.news each Wednesday for the latest article. For more information, contact NSF at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website to learn more.