The Monitor

Production Process Insights

Don’t Get Caught on the Dark Side of the Grey Market

Posted by John Powalisz on 4/22/19 8:00 AM
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All food and beverages undergo some form of processing, and those processes need to follow a variety of local, national and international food safety regulations. Buying certified samplers from authorized sellers is critical to ensuring your plant has the right sampling equipment to meet these standards and keep our food supply safe.

Yet many plants purchase sampling equipment outside manufacturers’ authorized distribution channels – also known as the grey market. According to the Harvard Business Review, an estimated $7 billion to $10 billion worth of products are sold every year in the United States outside these authorized channels. Most consumers and businesses buy items on the grey market because prices are generally lower.

But investing in these unauthorized products doesn’t give you the same peace of mind as those with genuine ones, and it could bring you back to square one both financially and in terms of inspection violations.

stay on the right side of the market

Make sure your samplers are certified for your food and beverage applications and come from a reliable, trusted partner.

Depending on your food or beverage processing environment, you may need to mitigate anywhere from low to high risks. There are three kinds of certified samplers for food and beverage applications to help you mitigate this:

  • Food grade samplers include 316 stainless steel contact surfaces and FDA compliant seals
  • Hygienic samplers closely follow the strict standards of various certifying agencies and technical reports. They meet or exceed minimum food protection and sanitation critera.
  • Samplers that meet 3-A sanitary standards have passed third-party verification inspection. The 3-A sanitary standards and accepted practices help protect food meant for human consumption from contamination, while guaranteeing that all product contact surfaces can be mechanically cleaned and dismantled manually for thorough inspections. To be granted the 3-A symbol, manufacturers must go through a rigorous authorization process. 

3-A: The Symbol of assurance

Since 1956, the 3-A Symbol has been used to identify equipment that meets 3-A Sanitary Standards for design and fabrication of dairy and food equipment. This symbol is your assurance that equipment meets sanitary standards. To get a 3-A license, equipment manufacturers must undergo an independent Third Party Verification (TPV) inspection to conduct an on-site evaluation of finished equipment and other product attributes to affirm the equipment conforms to provisions of the applicable 3-A Sanitary Standard.

This requirement, combined with easy access to licensee information, has enhanced the level of integrity and recognition of the 3-A Symbol for everyone concerned with the safety of consumers of food, beverages and pharmaceutical products.

When false symbols or statements are advertised, organizations like 3-A Standards, Inc. make it known via their website. Find out if your equipment manufacturer is 3-A certified.


Learn more about how you can protect operators, ensure the integrity of your samples, and ensure compliance with many regulations.

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Topics: Food & Beverage, Solids & Powder, Liquid & Slurry

Written by John Powalisz

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John Powalisz, Director of International Sales, is dedicated to sharing his technical expertise and knowledge of sampling equipment and systems in power plants, refineries, chemical and food processing facilities garnered from more than 19 years with the company. John has worked with clients worldwide to help them to comply with regulations and optimize processes by applying proper sampling hardware and techniques. While he is well-versed in all Sentry products and applications, he is particularly focused on the food and beverage and power generation markets as well as emerging market development.