For Safety’s and Liability’s Sake Look at Your Labels

When a foodservice operator opens the box on a newly purchased piece of equipment or a supply item it's doubtful the first thing they look for is the safety or sanitation seal. That's because they assume the manufacturers, importers and dealers have lived up to their end of the bargain by supplying safe products. Unfortunately, that's no longer a given.

Bob-JoeselBob Joesel, National Sales Manager, Bar Maid Corp.In North America, most products are manufactured or imported and tested for safety and sanitation to standards set by organizations such as UL, CSA and NSF — you've undoubtedly seen their logos on products your business uses and/or sells. Companies like ETL (Intertek) may test and mark as approved to these standards, too. End users trust that products tested and labeled to these standards are safe. Manufacturers who carry the mark of UL, CSA, ETL and NSF provide products that meet established safety and/or sanitation standards on an ongoing basis. And local health and fire departments may not allow foodservice operators to use appliances that lack these certifications.

CE is another mark often seen on products sold in North America. The CE mark is Europe's insignia that indicates the manufacturer believes a specific product meets certain European safety and/or sanitation standards. Manufacturers from any company can "self certify," meaning there is no certainty that a product with the CE mark has ever been tested to meet safety or sanitation standards.

It is important to note, however, that U.S. or Canadian insurance companies, health departments or electrical inspectors will not acknowledge products with only the CE mark as being certified safe and/or sanitary. Nor does it indicate the product has been tested certified safe or sanitary. Here's an additional cause for concern: Some products originating in China feature a nearly identical CE mark that stands for "Chinese Export" not CE safety. Products carrying this mark can mislead members of the supply chain and their customers into believing they are buying certified safe products.

Ultimately, purchasing products that are not certified safe and sanitary can put a foodservice operation at risk and endanger customers. What to do:

Check each product for safety and/or sanitation certifications. Make sure it is a legitimate logo.
Certification should be for the entire product. A certification label on a motor does not necessarily mean the entire appliance is certified.
If in doubt, ask the manufacturer for a copy of their certificate of certification or check the certifying company's website for a listing that includes the company, model number, product name, certificate number and directives it is certified to from a third-party test center.

Conscientious manufacturers spend big money for testing and regular inspections to protect their customers. When companies dodge these costs they may offer items at lower prices, but at what risk of safety and liability to foodservice operators and their customers?

Whether you are a manufacturer, dealer or operator your customers count on you to sell them safe products.

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