As the representative body for catering equipment manufacturers in the UK, CESA has a firm handle on the certifications that apply to suppliers. CESA director, Keith Warren, shares its views on the subject.
What are the primary types of equipment certification that CESA recognises in the UK today?
The only label that really matters in the UK and Europe is the CE mark. CE marking means that a product conforms to certain standardised EU directives — safety, design and performance standards. These directives were developed to ensure the safety of the product to the user and to remove technical barriers to trade between and with member countries.
All other certifications are optional — though they can help demonstrate to customers that the equipment meets specific requirements. For example, in certain export markets NSF can be a defining factor on whether a customer will buy or not. The Energy Technology List (ETL) is only relevant in the UK and currently only applies to refrigeration. Some customers may insist that their refrigeration equipment comes from the ETL, since it will be energy efficient. Any third party certification may be useful, since it proves that the equipment has met the required standards.
Are there any independent testing practices or certifications that CESA actively promotes to its members?
We promote the understanding of certification and testing practices through the Certified Food Service Professional (CFSP) programme — the qualification specific to the foodservice industry. It has a full section devoted to directives, approval processes and third party testing agencies. All members’ equipment must carry the CE mark — but this is a legal requirement rather than CESA’s. The CESA Code of Practice for members endorses this in order to ensure that members adhere to their legal requirements.
Is there enough standardisation in the market?
The critical issue here is market surveillance. Every piece of catering equipment should carry the CE mark, but there is non-CE-marked equipment in use in the UK. It is illegal and potentially highly dangerous, since it has not been assessed against health and safety requirements. CESA has been active over many years in bringing non-CE-marked equipment to the attention of authorities. Anyone coming across such equipment should report it to CESA or Trading Standards. If it is in use it should be reported to an EHO.
What key trends do you see among your members when it comes to independent equipment testing and certification?
Equipment suppliers are looking for a competitive edge and, depending on their customer base, independent testing could deliver a commercial benefit. It’s a matter of assessing the value — and cost — of the testing, based on the markets or customers they are trying to reach. Suppliers selling outside Europe will need to meet the country’s national regulations. An international standard, such as NSF, may help but additional certifications will have to be gained in most instances.