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The OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification: The Importance of Hygienic Design
Do you know your Food Zone from your Splash Zone?
When it comes to equipment in a commercial kitchen, sanitation and hygiene should always be top of mind. NSF International’s commercial food equipment sanitation standards help you to evaluate your potential public health risks and are diverse enough to evaluate emerging robotic equipment.
Our 21 NSF/ANSI standards for commercial food equipment are designed to establish food protection and sanitation requirements for the materials, design, construction and performance of food handling and processing equipment. ANSI, which stands for American National Standards Institute, provides our standards with accreditation.
Our standards are based on the FDA Food Code. Today, public health authorities across the United States rely on NSF certification when ensuring that commercial food equipment meets hygienic and food safety requirements.
Each standard is designed to cover specific equipment (e.g. NSF/ANSI 8 for blenders, deli slicers and NSF/ANSI 18 for beverage dispensers). To determine which standard(s) apply to your product, first ask:
What is it? (e.g. coffee machine)
What does it do? (e.g. brew coffee)
What does it use to do it? (e.g. tubing, water reservoir, warming plate)
Which standard scope applies? (e.g. NSF/ANSI 4)
You’ll then be able to understand what standard(s), and therefore requirements, apply to your product.
Next, you’ll need to determine the product zones and requirements based on those zones. The food equipment standards classify different surfaces or areas of equipment into defined zones of exposure (source: NSF/ANSI 170 – Glossary of Food Equipment Terminology):
Food zone (direct or indirect contact)
Nonfood zone (exposed or unexposed)
The requirements for materials, design and construction will vary by zone. Therefore, the ability to identify the correct zone on equipment is crucial to proper certification.
The food zone is the area on equipment exposed to food. Contact with food can be direct such as cutting boards, product reservoirs or the interior of food dispensing pumps. A surface where food or condensation accumulates and then splashes back into food, is an indirect food zone.
The splash zone are those areas likely to be soiled during operation and within the end use environment, such soda fountain drip trays, exterior of pots/pans, and utensil handles.
The nonfood zone is the area of equipment that is not a food zone or a splash zone. Examples of an exposed nonfood zone include the back or underside of equipment, including legs and casters. The unexposed nonfood zone is the rest of the equipment: areas not visible and not exposed to soiling such as the motor area and compartment housing electronics.
NSF standards are not blueprints for designing equipment – instead, they help you to understand which materials and design features are more effective for food safety. Our team of knowledgeable experts is here to partner with you on your certification journey and help you to understand the ins and outs of certification. Come back next week to learn about material requirements.
This article is part of the OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification. Click here for all articles in the guide and 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.