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id you ever notice that little tag with the UL mark on your extension cord, or the Good Housekeeping Seal on your Jolly Time popcorn? Are they there just to make you feel better? Kind of the reverse of the scary "Do Not Remove This Tag" warning on mattresses and pillows? What's the deal with these seals? And, when it comes right down to it, what's in it for you?

Seals of approval can represent different things, but they generally mean that the product bearing the seal meets established professional safety and performance standards. Here's a Web-site rundown of a few of the most well-known seals of approval:
      Seals of approval generally
      mean that the product
      bearing the seal meets
      established professional safety
      and performance standards.

UL applies its
mark each year to
more than 14 billion
products worldwide.
UL Listing Mark
Underwriters Laboratories Inc., a not-for-profit safety testing and certification organization, has been evaluating products since 1894. UL applies its mark each year to more than 14 billion products worldwide. There are several types of UL marks, each with a specific meaning and significance, the most common of which is the UL Listing Mark.
      You'll find the UL Listing Mark on such things as appliances, computer equipment, furnaces, heaters, fuses, electrical panel boards, lamp sockets and cords, extension cords, indoor/outdoor lights, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, life jackets, and life preservers.
      The only way to tell if a product is UL-certified is to look for the UL mark on the product, not on the packaging or the display. A UL Listing Mark on a product always is composed of four elements: the UL in a circle mark, the word LISTED in capital letters, an alphanumeric control number, and the product name (such as toaster or portable lamp). UL bestows its mark only on products that a UL team has evaluated and checked at the manufacturing facility. UL must test samples of the complete product against nationally recognized safety standards; the samples must be free from reasonably foreseeable risk of fire, electric shock, and related hazards, and the product must be manufactured under UL's Follow-Up Services program.
      UL also issues alerts warning consumers about potentially hazardous products. For example, UL issued a press release in late December warning consumers that a toaster oven rotisserie griddle "may overheat and present a shock and fire hazard." The toaster oven, manufactured by Enic Enterprises Co., Ltd. of Taiwan, for Appliance Corporation of America, has been distributed under the "Welbilt" name and carries model number TBR5. UL cautioned consumers that the product does not meet UL's safety standards and urged consumers to discontinue use immediately and return it to its place of purchase.

Good Housekeeping Seal
The Good Housekeeping Seal, first introduced in 1909, goes only to items or products the Good Housekeeping Institute evaluates and accepts. If a product bearing the seal proves to be defective at any time within two years from the date it was first purchased, Good Housekeeping will replace the product or refund the price.
      Good Housekeeping Institute is a consumer product evaluation laboratory of Good Housekeeping magazine. The institute has departments specializing in engineering, chemistry, food, food appliances, nutrition, beauty products, home care, and textiles. It reviews all advertisements submitted to the magazine; the magazine only publishes those ads the institute finds acceptable.
      Advertisers whose products are found acceptable may elect to use the Good Housekeeping Seal. These judgments constitute the basis of the Good Housekeeping Consumers' Refund or Replacement Policy--a limited warranty that states: "If any product that bears our Seal or is advertised in this issue of the magazine (except for the products listed below) proves to be defective at any time within two years from the date it was first sold to a consumer, we, Good Housekeeping, will replace the product or refund the purchase price. The policy covers you, the consumer, whether you bought the product or it was given to you (by the buyer)."
      Consumers with defective products should contact Good Housekeeping as soon as possible. After completing a Good Housekeeping complaint form, the consumer will either return the product to the magazine at its expense, or expect a visit from a Good Housekeeping representative who will inspect the product.
      The policy excludes insurance; realty; automotive and camping vehicles; public transportation; travel facilities; catalogs and merchandise portfolios; "shopping by mail" items; premiums; schools, hotels, summer camps, and similar organizations; prescription drugs; and institutional advertisements. Good Housekeeping waives responsibility for products that are improperly installed or serviced, or are abused. Good Housekeeping makes no express warranty for state laws.
      Products that carry the Good Housekeeping Seal include Black & Decker irons, Cascade, Charmin, Pella, Clairol Loving Care, Niagra, Samsung microwave ovens, Whirlpool, and Lane Chests. No other magazine in the world offers this kind of service to its readers.

      Good Housekeeping Institute
      is a consumer product
      evaluation laboratory of
Good Housekeeping magazine.

NSF-approved bottled
water, for example,
has been tested and
complies with FDA
regulations and has been
bottled in containers and
produced in plants
that meet FDA
Have you ever noticed that blue circle with the initials NSF on such things as faucets, bottled water, or water treatment units? Behind the NSF Mark, or "seal of approval," is an independent, not-for-profit organization called NSF International. For more than 50 years, NSF has demonstrated its commitment to public health, safety, and environmental protection by developing standards, providing education, and "third-party conformity assessment services." That simply means that NSF, as a third party, checks to see that the tested product performs as it should. Its staff includes engineers, chemists, toxicologists, microbiologists, and environmental health professionals.
      What does the NSF Mark mean to you? It means that the products you buy meet public health and performance standards without posing unnecessary risks. NSF certification programs are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in the United States.
      If you buy NSF-approved bottled water, for example, it means that the water has been tested and complies with FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations and has been bottled in containers and produced in plants that meet FDA requirements. The NSF mark offers visible evidence that the bottler has voluntarily agreed to ongoing annual unannounced inspections, and source and product testing by an impartial third-party.
      "NSF certification of restaurant food equipment and plumbing products ensure that public health is being protected," states Stan Hazan, director of marketing and communications at NSF.

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