The Impact of the NSF International

Every year one in six persons will become sick due to foodborne illness, according to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control. Many of the organisms that are the culprits of foodborne diseases are not instantly noticed. Many times they cannot be smelled, tasted, or seen, resulting in unhealthy foods being consumed by unsuspecting individuals. Thanks to the NSF International, foods and products are made safer through its internationally-recognized NSF certification and seal. NSF certification means products have met strict standards for the protection of the public’s health.

According to its website, the mission of NSF International “is dedicated to being the leading global provider of public health and safety-based risk management solutions while serving the interests of all stakeholders, namely the public, the business community and government agencies. Our mission is carried out by over 2,500 global employees, including microbiologists, toxicologists, chemists, engineers, and environmental and public health professionals.”

NSF International was founded as the National Sanitation Foundation in 1944. In the early days, NSF International developed high standards for the sanitation of soda fountain and luncheonette equipment and has evolved today into setting public health and safety standards in a variety of areas that include food products. Seafood is often mishandled by consumers, which can lead to food borne illnesses. NSF International suggests that we properly select and handle seafood in the following ways:

When selecting fresh fish and shrimp use these tips1:

  • For whole fish (head on), eyes should be clear and have a slight bulge, flesh should be firm, shiny and free from slime, and flesh should spring back when pressed
  • Fish fillets should display no discoloration, darkening or drying.
  • Shrimp flesh should be translucent and shiny with no odor.

For selecting shellfish, you may want to consider these tips:

  • The label should show the processor’s certification number. This means the shellfish was harvested and processed in accordance with national shellfish safety controls.
  • Discard all broken or cracked shellfish.
  • Do a tap test: Live clams, oysters and mussels will close up when the shell is tapped. If they do not close when tapped, do not select them.
  • For crabs and lobsters, check for leg movement. These shellfish spoil rapidly after they are dead so only choose live ones for freshness.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds that 80% of foodborne illnesses can be attributed to meat, poultry, or poor handling of food. It is important for consumers to be educated about the appropriate ways to handle and cook these items. NSF International to continues to collaborate with industry leaders, regulators, consumers and public health official to keep standards high and people healthy. These partnership are important to ensuring that more people learn about safety measures and precautions relating to food. NSF International has created more than 70 active public health and safety American National Standards and over 70 active protocols for various products and foods to meet stringent standards to bear the NSF International seal and certification.