What NSF Ratings Mean to You and Your Business – Chef Al’s Equipment Buyers Guide
What it is
American regulations for restaurants are among the best in the world. This is due in part to the National Sanitation Foundation’s (NSF) tireless research and reports that illuminate unsanitary practices and provide clear, easy-to-follow guidelines to ensure maximum cleanliness for America’s restaurants.
NSF is a nonprofit organization that draws on the expertise of scientists, engineers and analysts to evaluate each piece of equipment. Any component that doesn’t make the grade is not given NSF status- and is not suitable for use incommercial kitchens.
What it means to you
Depending on your local regulations, certain pieces of equipment must be NSF rated for your commercial kitchen to pass health code. A countertop typically found in a residential home, for example, will not pass NSF as it can’t be sanitized as effectively as stainless steel.
Not only will you face large fines if your kitchen operates without appropriate equipment, but you’ll have to remodel and replace offending pieces, and if your kitchen was already open and operating, you’ll lose revenue and potentially customers if the non-compliance was publicized.
Also, don’t overlook your insurance policy. If you add a piece of resturant equipment that doesn’t meet commercial guidelines, any accidents, fires, or loss resulting from that item, and in some cases even the presence of that item in your kitchen, can void your insurance policy.
What to do
First and foremost, know your local health regulations. They will guide you to the exact pieces you need to keep your kitchen safe and sanitary
Secondly, investigate any foreign purchases ruthlessly. Other countries do not have the strict health regulations that America does, and purchasing ranges, ice cream makers, or even cutting boards from overseas can be devastating to your business if they’re not properly investigated beforehand. Some electrical items can be made NSF compliant, but in the vast majority of cases, it is cheaper, easier and quicker to buy the item’s American counterpart.
Finally, ask! Not only should you ask your local health officials for a list of required items, but ask your vendors for NSF certifications. Most commercial vendors will proudly display NSF approval on documentation, but if you don’t see it, ask.
Now that you know to look for NSF equipment, it’ll be easy to stay within your restaurant’s budget and meet local health codes.
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