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Restaurant Equipment Certification Marks Explained


Update: This post was originally published stating that NSF International was a non-profit organization. We have since updated the “non-profit” terminology with “not-for-profit” for accuracy. Thank you.

When looking to purchase new commercial restaurant equipment or supplies for your kitchen, you’ve probably noticed a few stickers slapped on the equipment like NSF, ESL, UL and more. These logos represent a handful of organizations that are responsible for testing equipment for its safety and efficacy. Not only do the certifications give you piece of mind that your equipment has been rigorously tested, you have the confidence that products who have met these requirements are deemed safe to use in your restaurant.

NSFNSF International (NSF)
NSF International (formerly known as the National Sanitation Foundation), or NSF for short, is an independent, not-for-profit organization that certifies the design and construction of food service equipment. Many have come to recognize the NSF certification mark as a sign that the product complies with all standard requirements. Because NSF-approved items are typically guaranteed to be in compliance with local and state health departments, restaurants and other food service establishments look for NSF certified products to boost their inspection scores.

UL.svgUnderwriters Laboratories (UL)
Focused mostly on restaurant equipment and electrical and gas safety standards, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), is a global, independent safety consulting and certification company that has participated in the safety analysis of many of today’s new technologies. Restaurateurs have come to recognize the UL sticker as a sign that the equipment has met rigorous standards for soundness of design, electrical safety and structural integrity, making it safe for food service. You’ll find that UL tests for similar standards like the NSF International; as such, due to the cost and time requirements of testing, you may find many manufacturers may not opt for the NSF testing once they’ve received their UL certification.

ETL-listedETL Listed Mark (ETL)
The ETL Mark identifies products that have been independently tested and meets a nationally recognized list of standards including (ASME, ASTM, CSA, NSF, UL and more). As the fastest growing safety certification in North America, you should see the ETL mark on more and more products in your kitchen.


CEEuropean Union (CE)
Originating as an abbreviation of Conformité Européenne, meaning European Conformity, the CE mark designates that the manufacturer claims compliance with the applicable health and safety standards defined in the EU legislation for its product. The CE certification is mandatory for products looking to sell in certain countries.

CSAThe CSA Group (CSA)Formerly known as The Canadian Standards Association, The CSA Group tests and certifies products for safety and performance requirements. The CSA mark distinction, recognized by many government and code officials, regulatory and regulation bodies, clearly designates when products have passed a series of tests to ensure it meets safety standards.

energy-star-logoENERGY STAR
Going green is at the tip of everyone’s tongue right now. Not only is it better for the environment, but in the long-term you’ll find it’s better for your wallet too. ENERGY STAR is a government-backed symbol identifying energy-efficient products. In order for a product to receive the ENERGY STAR label it must meet a set of specific product specifications:

  • Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
  • Certified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in addition to increased energy efficiency.
  • If the certified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time.
  • Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.
  • Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
  • Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.

About Natalie Fauble

Natalie Fauble is the Online Marketing Manager - Content & SEO for Tundra Restaurant Supply. As a digital marketer with a passion for the restaurant industry, Natalie helps companies shape their brand through thoughtful, fun and innovative content strategies. When she isn't blogging for Tundra Restaurant Supply you can find her in her vegetable garden or in the kitchen whipping up one of her favorite dishes.

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  1. The Back Burner – Are you sure NSF is a non-profit agency ? In the spirit of accuracy I would ask that you verify this. Nowhere on their website does it indicate non-profit status, it may be a privately held corporation for all I know. I have been in the industry 40 years and have often wondered how this powerful organization operates as a business entity. Thanks for info

    • Hi Rick,

      You bring up a very good point. NSF International states that they are “an independent, not-for-profit organization with a mission to protect environmental and public health” (http://www.nsf.org/regulatory/regulator-advocacy). However, there is a distinction between not-for-profit vs. non-profit, and stating the latter may not be entirely accurate. I will republish the post with the appropriate updates.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!


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