Since its founding in 1944, initially as part of the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, but now an independent, not-for-profit, NSF International has become one of the most trusted names in human health. NSF writes national public health standards and certifies products to help ensure the safety of food and drinking water, dietary supplements, and consumer goods. Widely recognized for its scientific and technical expertise in the environmental and health sciences, NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety, and Indoor Environment.
NSF's heritage dates back to November 1944 when two professors from the University of Michigan, and a public health official from Toledo, Ohio, established NSF. NSF’s founders - Walter Snyder, Henry Vaughan, and Nathan Sinai - saw a need to standardize public health requirements for foodservice equipment. They developed a framework that enabled the participation of all involved parties – regulators, manufacturers and consumers – in developing these safety standards. The transparent, consensus-based process they established to develop NSF’s first standards, which addressed the sanitation of soda fountain and luncheonette equipment, became the process by which NSF developed other public health and safety standards.
Since that time, NSF has developed more than 72 American National Standards to protect food and water, dietary supplements, pools and spas, and consumer goods. Part of NSF International’s legacy was assisting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water treatment and distribution systems program in the 1980’s to improve national drinking water standards by evaluating products that come in contact with drinking water. A majority of states now require drinking water products, such as plastic, plumbing and water filters, to be certified to NSF standards.
The next step was to ensure that all standards were maintained, which led to the development of certification programs for a wide-range of products beginning in commercial kitchens with foodservice equipment, and expanding into residential kitchen appliances and utensils, organic foods, and throughout the home with plastic and plumbing products, water filters, nutritional ingredients, pool and spa equipment, and most recently, with green building materials. To maintain certification, many of these areas mentioned are also supported with independent, third-party audit programs, which examine manufacturing processes and systems for compliance to maintain certification to standards. Another service extension occurred in the 1990’s when International Strategic Registrations (ISR) was created. Today, NSF conducts testing for all programs in its state-of-the-art laboratories and has more than 850 professional, technical and audit employees, operating in five continents, serving clients worldwide.
NSF International began developing standards at a time when few national sanitation and human health standards existed in the U.S. Today, NSF remains at the forefront, developing standards and certification programs that address important public health issues worldwide. As NSF develops new human health and environmental programs and expands operations to other regions of the world, it remains dedicated to its mission of “protecting and improving human health.”
Each of the following milestones has helped NSF advance this important mission. These milestones include:
- 1944 – NSF International is initially established in the University of Michigan School of Public Health (NSF is now an independent, not-for-profit organization).
- 1952 –
- NSF Test Laboratories chartered.
- First food equipment standards introduced (NSF standards 1 and 2).
- Food equipment certification program launched.
- 1963 – NSF Headquarters moves to West Stadium in Ann Arbor; Regional offices open.
- 1967 – NSF Testing Laboratories changes to a not-for-profit corporation.
- 1972 – NSF World headquarters and principal laboratories moved to Plymouth Road location (Ann Arbor).
- 1980 – NSF International creates the water treatment and distribution systems program to assist the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to improve drinking water standards. A majority of states now require drinking water products, such as plastic, plumbing and water filters, be certified to NSF standards.
- 1985 –
- NSF International opens European headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
- Drinking water additives program launched.
- 1990 – NSF and NSF Testing Laboratories merge to form NSF International.
- 1991 – NSF Certification programs are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- 1996 – NSF receives designation as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for food safety and drinking water safety and treatment. This designation was renewed in 2009.
- 1999 – NSF International moves to new world headquarters on Dixboro Road in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- 2001 – NSF International launches dietary supplement certification program.
- 2003 – NSF develops first American national standard for dietary supplements (NSF/ANSI 173).
- 2004 –
- NSF acquires Quality Assurance International (QAI, Inc.), organic certifier based in San Diego, California.
- NSF launches the Scrub Club, a website that helps teach children about the importance of proper and consistent hand washing.
- NSF launches athletic banned substances certification program, which builds on the dietary supplement certification program to include screening for over 140 banned substances.
- 2005 – NSF expands testing operations in Taiwan with new lab in Taichung.
- 2006 – NSF establishes NSF Shanghai Co. Ltd. in the People’s Republic of China to enhance food and water quality throughout Asia.
- 2007 – NSF completes an 80,000 square-foot laboratory expansion at their headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to increase its engineering, microbiology, chemistry, and toxicology laboratory capabilities, bringing its headquarters and lab facility to a total of 150,000 square feet.
- 2008 – NSF launches the Environmental Sustainability Program that provides carbon footprinting and accredited, third-party verification of environmental claims and greenhouse gas emissions. This program also includes standards development and certification for sustainable products, such as carpet, furniture, and other building materials, as well as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
- 2009 –
- NSF begins testing children’s toys and products, becoming one of the first organizations to earn the Toy Safety Accreditation from the American National Standards Institute under the new Toy Industry Association’s Toy Safety Certification Program.
- NSF opens office in India.
- NSF acquires Surefish, a recognized leader in seafood quality, with offices in Seattle, Alaska, Vietnam and South Korea.
About NSF International: NSF International (www.nsf.org) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that writes national public health standards and certifies products to help ensure the safety of food, water, dietary supplements and consumer goods. Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide, and is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety, and Indoor Environment.
Now operating in more than 120 countries, NSF’s programs include testing, certification and safety audits for the food and water industries, certification and banned substance screening for the dietary supplement and functional food industries, toy and consumer product testing, and environmental sustainability services including, carbon footprinting and environmental claims verification. Additional services include management systems registrations through NSF International Strategic Registrations Ltd., organic certification provided by Quality Assurance International and education through the NSF Center for Public Health Education.