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What is a 3A Standard

Updated: Sep 16

This article aims to very briefly explain what is the 3A standard, which is mentioned quite often in dairy tubing, piping, valves, and fittings. It will talk abit about what it means, and how it was created.


3A Sanitary Standard
3A Standard Logo

The 3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc is an organization formed by the International Association for Food Protection, the Food Processing Suppliers Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the American Dairy Products Institute, the 3-A Administrative Symbol Council, and a representative of the USDA and FDA.


Unlike other equipment standards that cover mechanical properties, electrical or personnel safety, the 3A Sanitary Standards determine the criteria of the design and fabrication of equipment that comes into contact with food.


The purpose of the 3A Sanitary Standards is to protect public health by using sanitary equipment, and the goal is to

1) Protect food from contamination.

2) Ensure that all product contact surfaces can be mechanically cleaned, and be dismantled easily for manual cleaning or inspection.


Today, there are 70 different 3A Sanitary Standards in the the following groups of equipment

1) Vessels

2) Fillers

3) Valves and Fittings

4) Heat Exchangers

5) Conveyors and Feeders

6) Instruments

7) Concentrating Equipment

8) Farm/Raw Milk

9) Cheese and Butter Equipment


The use of the 3A symbol on food equipment services three important purposes

1) Assures processors that equipment meets sanitary standards.

2) Provides accepted criteria to equipment manufacturers for sanitary design.

3) Establishes guidelines for uniform evaluation and compliance by sanitarians.


This means that for Sanitary Fittings and Valves, the 3A Sanitary Standards will define the criteria for them to be cleanable and to prevent contamination of the produce.


For example, the areas include the materials used, surface finish, construction that is free from imperfections such as pits, folds, and crevices, limitations of radii, draining requirements, accessibility for cleaning and inspection, and design requirements for the proposed method of cleaning including Clean in Place (CIP), Clean out of Place,(COP), or manual cleaning (wet or dry brushing).


The integrity of sealed product contact and non-product contact surfaces must not be compromised.


At NKE Flow, we stock a wide range of 3A certified products. If you need more details, do contact us.