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Standards Are Everywhere – Even in Your Pumpkin Pie!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your family and friends, from ANSI


According to Time magazine, when the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, there was a key menu item missing from what is today’s traditional holiday feast: pumpkin pie. The classic dessert wasn’t popular in the United States until the early 1800s, when, following the English tradition of making pies out of nearly anything on hand, Americans began cooking the plentiful squash with cream, eggs, sugar, and spices, and baking it in a crust. America’s favorite fall dessert was born, remaining largely unchanged for more than two centuries. And this Thursday, as an estimated 50 million pumpkin pies hit Thanksgiving tables across the country, standards and conformity assessment are at work helping to ensure that the treats are safe and satisfying, from farm to store to table to stomach.

Farm Fresh
The produce purists among us may insist on starting a pumpkin pie recipe with an actual pumpkin (yes, it is possible). During their summer growing season before the fall harvest, fresh pumpkins are highly dependent on adequate irrigation to maintain their 90% water composition. A series of standards from the International Standardization Organization (ISO), ISO 9635-1:2014, Agricultural irrigation equipment - Irrigation valves (Parts 1-5), specifies construction and performance requirements and test methods for valves used in irrigation systems. These valves are critical for controlling the correct flow and pressure of water to properly irrigate pumpkins and other crops. The ISO 9635 series was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 23, Tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry, Subcommittee (SC) 18, Irrigation and drainage equipment and systems. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) serves as the administrator of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)–accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to SC 18, carrying U.S. positions forward to ISO. An ANSI member and accredited standards developer, ASABE develops an array of documents that support the advancement of efficient and environmentally sensitive engineering methods for agricultural and food systems worldwide.

Standards like those from ISO and ASABE (and dozens of other developers) are one critical component of a supply chain system that helps ensure pumpkins and other produce are safe and available when you want them. But equally important are reliable conformance programs that assess adherence to those standards. ANSI plays a key role in improving the efficacy of a large number of product certification bodies working in the food and agricultural safety area through the ANSI Accreditation Program for Product Certification Bodies. Prominent food and agricultural sector programs including the Safe Quality Food Institute (SFQI), GlobalGAP, PrimusGFS, and the International Featured Standards (IFS) rely on ANSI accreditation to demonstrate their compliance to International Standards and the competence of their certification programs [see related article]. For more on how ANSI accreditation strengthens conformity assessment programs, check out the new “Value of ANSI Accreditation” brochure.

Can It!
For the slightly less ambitious Thanksgiving baker, it’s almost impossible to resist using super-convenient packaged pumpkin as the base of a pie filling (and few argue that it is any less delicious!). You can avoid any challenging pumpkin preparation, and simply open a can – safely, with the help of a standard from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). IEC 60335-1 Ed. 5.0 b:2010, Household and similar electrical appliances - Safety - Part 1: General requirements, sets specifications for functional safety of electrical appliances with rated voltages less than 480 V. This international standard was developed by IEC TC 61, Safety of household and similar electrical appliances. The U.S. holds the Secretariat of IEC TC 61, with ANSI member and audited designator UL serving as the delegated secretary and associated U.S. National Committee (USNC)-approved U.S. TAG Administrator for the committee. In addition, UL has published UL 982 (Ed. 5), Standard for Motor-Operated Household Food Preparing Machines, which defines requirements for the performance of household motor-operated kitchen accessories that are intended to be operated for short-periods of time, including electric can openers.

Whether you’ve opted for canned or fresh, the real key to a traditional pumpkin pie is the distinctive spice blend that gives it its holiday zip. And, unsurprisingly, there is some controversy about the ideal combination: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves? Personal preferences abound, but what they all have in common is the assurance that the spices will be safe to eat thanks to standards like ASTM F1885-04 (2010), Standard Guide for Irradiation of Dried Spices, Herbs, and Vegetable Seasonings to Control Pathogens and Other Microorganisms. Developed by ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International, this document covers procedures for irradiation of dried spices, herbs, and vegetable seasonings for microbiological control.

Easy as…Pie?
Some people just don’t bake – no judgment! Plenty of great bakeries, restaurants, and store-bought pastries offer excellent alternatives to homemade pumpkin pie. And plenty of national and international standards help to ensure their products are safe for consumers. For example, a number of American National Standards from ANSI member and accredited standards developer NSF International focus on sanitation of commercial food equipment. ANSI/NSF 51-2012, Food Equipment Materials, establishes requirements for materials used in the construction of commercial food equipment to ensure the materials will not adulterate food nor render the equipment difficult to clean and sanitize. And NSF/ANSI 8-1992, Commercial Powered Food Preparation Equipment, covers sanitation requirements for power-operated commercial food preparation equipment, including mixers, peelers, grinders, slicers, and similar equipment.

Beyond clean equipment, proper food handling practices are a critical component of commercial food safety, and more and more state and local governments are setting mandates to ensure compliance to standards. In May 2014, for example, Arizona joined Illinois and West Virginia in passing legislation requiring certificate programs that provide food handling training to meet the American National Standard ASTM E2659, Standard Practice for Certificate Programs [see related article]. All food handling certificate programs accredited under the ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program (ANSI-CAP) are in compliance with the new law. And further highlighting the value and recognition associated with ANSI’s portfolio of accreditation services, the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals (NRFSP) chose the ANSI Accreditation Program for Personnel Certification Bodies to demonstrate its International Certified Food Safety Manager (ICFSM) and Food Protection Manager Certification Programs’ adherence to Conference of Food Protection (CFP) and international standards.

This Thanksgiving, when you’re stuffing down that last piece of pie, standards and conformity assessment will be working behind the scenes to help keep you safe and healthy, despite any overindulgence! Now go for a nice walk.

Standards Are Everywhere is a new online series showcasing standards at work in everyday life. The situation-based articles offer an easy and entertaining way to get across the important message that, while largely invisible, standards truly are everywhere, helping everything around us function better. For more fun resources, visit

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