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. That means it is not suitable for use in commercial kitchens.
So What Does NSF Certified Mean To You?
Depending on your local health regulations, certain pieces of equipment must be NSF certified 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?
- Learn your local health regulations. They will guide you to the exact pieces you need to keep your food truck kitchen safe and sanitary
- Look at your equipment. Inspect every piece of equipment in or plan to add to your truck kitchen. Also, find out where it was made. Some countries do not have the same strict health regulations that the United States. Purchasing grills, ovens, prep tables, or even cutting boards from overseas can hurt your mobile food business. Especially if they’re not properly rated. Some electrical items can be made NSF compliant. But remember, in most cases, it’s cheaper and easier to buy an American product instead.
- Ask the question. Ask your local health officials for a list of required NSF certified items. Also, ask your suppliers for NSF certified equipment.
The Bottom Line
One of the most critical elements, and challenges, for the food truck industry is creating and maintaining a clean, safe, and sanitary environment for producing the consumable products they sell. The NSF certification can have a significant impact for your mobile food business. Purchasing NSF approved items can help you maintain a high level of food safety, protect customers, and protect your reputation.
Now you know to look for NSF certified equipment. This means it will be easier for your food truck to meet local health codes. You can find NSF certified equipment suppliers on our Food Truck Supplier Directory