Melamine Dinnerware & NSF Certification in Foodservice: Do You Really Need It?
G.E.T. has led the melamine dinnerware category for more than 30 years. We know melamine. We know all the wonderful benefits it brings foodservice operators, from contemporary designs and unsurpassed durability to low replacement rates.
As self-proclaimed melamine enthusiasts, we’re also aware of the different qualities of melamine on the market. In a foodservice environment where operators count on their melamine daily to withstand sometimes relentless use in service and commercial dishwashers, only high-quality melamine can meet those needs.
With the bulk of melamine dinnerware supply coming from overseas, how can foodservice professionals ensure their investments will result in the highest performance while also exceeding food-safety standards? Certification from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) bridges the gap between foreign and domestic regulations ensuring operators get the most out of their purchase.
But is it really necessary?
Pictured: Black Faux Slate Semi-Gloss Melamine Display, Black Melamine Chopsticks
What is NSF Certification and Why Should You Care?
The majority of dinnerware nowadays, ceramic or melamine, is manufactured overseas in countries with far fewer regulations than America. This is where (and why) certification from the NSF comes into play.
What is NSF Certification?
NSF is a globally recognized organization that has become the industry standard for sanitation testing with the aim of improving public health. NSF certification is an optional credential accompanied by an arduous, ongoing process of reviewing and testing each step of a manufacturing routine, including raw materials. From their website:
Choosing a product certified by NSF lets you know the company complies with strict standards and procedures imposed by NSF. From extensive product testing and material analyses to unannounced plant inspections, every aspect of a product’s development is thoroughly evaluated before it can earn our certification.
With NSF certification comes the guarantee that:
- The manufacturers of foodservice products, many of which are made in Asian countries, use only FDA-approved raw materials
- Products passed numerous NSF tests measuring material safety, design, construction, and product performance
- The design of the product shape will not allow for food to collect and harbor bacteria
- Products are commercial dishwasher-safe, durable, and will withstand heat
At G.E.T., 100% of our melamine dinnerware is NSF-certified, which you can review here.
Pictured: Textured Rim Melamine Bowl in White
G.E.T. is the only supplier in the melamine dinnerware category that maintains official NSF certification for every single melamine product we put on the market. Even if we add a small piece, say a bread plate, to an existing collection, it will earn and maintain NSF certification.
Further, NSF certification means all factories that manufacture our melamine products are NSF-certified. We consciously choose to pursue this certification, which can cost around $1,500 per item in addition to annual factory audit costs.
FACT: Earning and maintaining an NSF certification is a voluntary, additional step after meeting FDA requirements for food contact surfaces such as melamine dinnerware. It comes with an abundance of guarantees from ongoing manufacturer and product inspections to an absence of harmful chemicals migrating into food.
Why do we go to all this trouble to certify our products? Because we understand serving food on easily and thoroughly sanitized dinnerware is non-negotiable for the majority of foodservice operators. And we’ll tell you why you should care, too.
Why You Should Care About NSF-Certified Melamine
When melamine dinnerware is NSF-certified, you can rest assured you’re using safe products in terms of durability, design, and the ability to be thoroughly sanitized. On top of that, NSF-certified melamine dinnerware ensures the product is made from pure melamine, which means it does not have harmful additives.
Low-quality melamine can affect foodservice operations in terms of durability. Some manufacturers will incorporate additives to stretch their products resulting in less sturdy melamine. For operators, that means they’ll need to replace their plateware more often, which costs extra money in the long-term.
Further, melamine dinnerware lacking NSF certification may have design flaws that increase their chance of breaking if dropped. Or, it may have 90° angles where bacteria can grow instead of the smooth surfaces required by NSF. Certification avoids these issues.
Again, because the majority of melamine dinnerware manufacturers are overseas, NSF certification holds them to American health and safety standards. These standards are upheld through regular, unannounced factory visits. The entire facility, from the raw materials to the overall manufacturing process to the final product must meet and maintain NSF standards.
If your melamine dinnerware lacks an official NSF logo, there’s no telling what’s in the product, how it was made, or how well it will perform durability-wise for foodservice use.
FACT: Seeking out NSF-certified melamine dinnerware made overseas is highly recommended because it ensures those products are made to American standards via routine facility, raw materials, and manufacturing process inspections.
Pictured: Faux Oak Wood Melamine Display, Stainless Steel Fry Basket
That’s why it’s important to seek out reputable companies like us at G.E.T. because all of our melamine products get NSF-certified. Other distributors certify some of their products, but we’re the only ones acquiring and maintaining certification for 100% of our melamine dinnerware.
One thing to be aware of, unfortunately, is the use of fake NSF stamps. Manufacturers know the value of NSF certification, but some either can’t qualify or won’t invest in the real thing. Instead, less reputable companies have occasionally resorted to phony stamps. If you’re not sure whether an NSF stamp is official, you can do a search on their website to confirm the manufacturer and specific product have in fact been certified.
The official NSF logo on melamine dinnerware will appear as it is below: embossed and alongside other icons indicating the product’s brand, whether it can be used in the microwave, where it was made, etc. You can see some examples of official NSF logos on other kinds of products here. If you see a rubber-stamped NSF logo, walk away. It’s an impostor.
In the end, it’s up to operators to chose the products that best fit their establishments and support their brand and reputation. But, we’ll say that while NSF certification isn’t legally necessary, it’s an important and relevant credential for foodservice operations and their consumers.
Either way, we want everybody – G.E.T. customer or not – to have accurate information about the relevancy of NSF certification so they can make the best decisions for their foodservice operations.
We encourage all consumers and commercial kitchen operators to look for official NSF certification on melamine dinnerware for extra peace of mind. If this leaves you wanting to learn more about NSF certification, we recommend reading “What Is NSF and How NSF Certified Products Can Benefit Your Foodservice Operation?“