NSF International celebrates 75th anniversary

Sunday, September 15, 2019 - 2:18pm

National Sanitation Foundation International commemorated its 75th anniversary with a celebratory event at its international headquarters in Ann Arbor Friday afternoon.

National Sanitation Foundation International commemorated its 75th anniversary with a celebratory event at its international headquarters in Ann Arbor Friday afternoon. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Barbara Collins

National Sanitation Foundation International commemorated its 75th anniversary with a celebratory event at its international headquarters in Ann Arbor on Friday afternoon. 

Eighteen guests spoke at the celebration, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.; state Rep. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor; and state Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.

The University of Michigan School of Public Health founded NSF International in 1944 to standardize sanitation and food safety requirements. NSF President and CEO Kevan Lawlor reflected on the beginnings of NSF and the advancements it has made in the past 75 years.

“NSF started as an ambitious idea,” Lawlor said. “Over the last 75 years, thousands of public health professionals, scientists and leaders have built upon that original idea and expanded upon it.”

In her speech, Stabenow discussed the different ways NSF continues to ensure civilians’ safety, such as developing water treatment protocol and developing a consumer guide to water filters in the wake of the Flint water crisis.

“The incredible scientific expertise in this community, it’s just amazing,” Stabenow said. “You are touching the world, not just our country.”

Dingell thanked NSF for keeping food and water safe for the consumer, something she said is often taken for granted by society. She mentioned the impact polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has recently had on the Ann Arbor community.

“While I thank you for saying, ‘I’m working on PFAS,’ we’re not doing enough,” Dingell said. “I told Nancy Pelosi I won’t vote for the national defense authorization if it doesn’t include something to address PFAS at our defense sites.”

Warren discussed the importance of safe food, water, medicine and consumer products. She said NSF helps ensure community members are able to have access to healthy food and water and know exactly what goes into what they eat and drink.

“Us as state legislators try to meet the needs of our constituents,” Warren said. “We are so grateful to have partners like NSF right here in our backyard whose brand can truly be counted on as a mark of trustworthiness, safety, transparency and consensus.”

Additionally, Warren thanked NSF for continuing their work in Ann Arbor and their contributions to the community.

Irwin presented NSF with a document tribute on behalf of the state legislature which recognized their work in public health. He emphasized the value of their work both locally and nationally. 

“All of us have benefitted from the amazing work this organization has done for 75 years on food safety and public health, making our world safer and more secure,” Irwin said. “It’s a great honor to be here and to celebrate that amazing impact.”

Dean of the School of Public Health, F. DuBois Bowman, said the University is proud of its shared history with NSF. He thanked them for the scholarships and research the organization provides the school.

Bowman also said the diverse backgrounds and experiences of the University’s public health students helps them become innovative in the workforce.

“I’m always inspired and impressed by the curiosity, drive and passion of our students,” Bowman said. “They’re drawn to public health by the will to have a positive impact on society, and then they proceed with this unbreakable spirit to make populations healthy around the world.” 

Two University graduate students who received NSF scholarships, MPH student Ray Chung and MPH student Kyung Min Seok, attended the event. Seok said the event inspired her to become a healthcare leader in the future. 

“I think NSF strives for innovation, which means using innovative ways to help improve public health,” Seok said. “One of the biggest things that we need to do right now is interdisciplinary teamwork and approach, and I think that’s what NSF does. It brings intellectuals from various fields … into one place, trying to come up with new ways to improve people’s health. I think that’s really cool.”