Good or bad? Should you use them or not?
A UK restaurant has recently been fined 50 000 pounds for using wooden boards which were considered to be be very dirty and had not been washed thoroughly.
It is well known that wooden boards should not be used in food preparation within the food industry, and domestically and we see coloured plastic boards in use to address the contamination and cross contamination issues.
However there has been an increasing trend to use wooden boards, and other materials, for serving food.
It is now not unusual to see hamburgers and other food sitting on a wooden board on the tables in restaurants and cafes.
I know of a chain of restaurants which serves much of it’s food on materials other than china or plastic. The food presentation looks really good but there is so much more work required in the kitchen to keep them safe.
It looks good to be sure and gives the food a lot of appeal, but unfortunately there really is no difference with contamination and cross contamination issues between food being prepared on wooden boards and being served on them.
China and cermic are non porous and so are easy to clean and sanitise, wood is not and therefore should not be used in contact with wet foods. Dry foods like breads and crackers for presentation on wood are not an issue because there are no conditions to allow bacterial growth, but the problem is that food premises are now using the wooden boards for many other types of foods.
Wooden boards can be cleaned and sanitised but unfortunately it is time consuming and much more difficult than plastic boards or usual platewear. Cleaning requires that the pores in the wood be thoroughly cleaned and then ideally sanitation should involve heat to ensure that the foodborne pathogens are killed.
The real problem with wooden boards is moisture which allows bacterial growth, and ensuring that the pores in the wood are completely cleared of bacteria and food.
It is these problems which led to the UK food business being given such a hefty fine. With all food safety issues, the best solution is to eleiminate the problem rather than having to control it.
So the answer to the question is very simple – do not use wood and non food grade materials for either food preparation or serving. To do so means extra controls in place, which have to be followed to make them safe. To not use them at all, means it is one less food safety issue which needs to be managed.
Why make life more difficult than it needs to be?