When dealing with your local health inspector, you may have been informed that all some of the equipment in your food truck must be NSF certified. So what is does this certification prove and why do you have to use equipment that is certified instead of something you bought at Target or Sur la Table?
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is a non-profit organization that evaluates each piece of equipment intended to for use in a commercial application. Any item that doesn’t pass their stringent testing is not given NSF status- and is not suitable for use in commercial kitchens.
So What Does It Mean To You?
Depending on your local health regulations, certain pieces of equipment must be NSF rated for your food truck to pass health inspection. As an example, the countertop in your home kitchen would not typically pass NSF as it can’t be sanitized as effectively as stainless steel.
If you think you want to operate your food truck kitchen without NSF rated equipment and you are caught, you could face huge fines and in some case may even have to remodel and replace the pieces found inadequate. If you need to replace your interior workspaces or appliances this will typically require downtime, and thus you’ll lose revenue and potentially customers if the non-compliance gets publicized.
Using non-NSF certified equipment will also affect your insurance coverage. If you add a piece of restaurant 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.
So What Should You Do?
Number one; learn your local health regulations. They will guide you to the exact pieces you need to keep your food truck kitchen safe and sanitary
The next step should be to inspect every piece of equipment in or plan to add to your truck kitchen and find out where it was made. Some countries do not have the same strict health regulations that the United States does, and purchasing grills, ovens, prep tables, or even cutting boards from overseas can hurt your mobile food business if they’re not properly rated. Some electrical items can be made NSF compliant, but in the vast most cases, it’s cheaper and easier to buy an American product instead.
The final step is to ask. Not only should you ask your local health officials for a list of required NSF certified items, but ask your suppliers for NSF certified equipment.
Now that you know to look for NSF equipment, it’ll be easier for your food truck to meet local health codes.