3-A was founded in the USA in 1920 as a non-profit organization from three dairy-related organizations, in order to produce standards for dairy equipment and systems. The aim of these standards is to ensure product quality and protect the health of consumers.
- International Association Food Industry Suppliers (IAFIS)
- International Association for Food Protection (IAFP)
- Milk Industry Foundation (MIF)
A subsidiary, 3-A Sanitary Standard Inc. (3A-SSI), was also set up in 2002. 3A-SSI is a non-profit organization which transforms 3-A criteria into standards and monitors their compliance. Related training courses are provided.
3-A is recognized by numerous countries and food producers. 3-A is not a legislative organization, but a company which has to generate sufficient income to survive. The company cooperates with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on whose behalf 3-A works. The principles and certificates are also used outside the dairy industry.
3-A primarily deals with the evaluation of the design features of instruments and systems. Drawings are submitted for evaluation in this respect. Checks are carried out to determine whether the principles of hygienic design are observed. An independent body then examines equipment production at the submitting manufacturer to determine whether the information provided is also implemented (third-party verification). If an instrument/company passes these tests, a certificate showing a test symbol is issued. The certificate always refers to the combination of the instrument and process connection.
However, recommendations are also made regarding the installation and operation of food processing machines.
Along with the FDA, 3-A publishes a list showing which materials, especially which plastics, are to be used.