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Can You Serve Food On Wooden Plates?

11:52 am

Wooden serving boards have hit the news recently with some reportedly 'incapable of being cleaned', resulting in expensive fines. As restaurants often choose to use alternatives to plates, how can you be sure that these vessels are food safe?

For all the online responses to this story, some describing the use of wooden boards as 'neolithic', there is really nothing wrong with using wooden boards for food service if they are kept hygienically clean. It's worth being aware of the dangers associated with this material so they can be avoided.

This article is an essential read if you intend to keep your wooden boards food safe.

Warmth of wood

Stranger things have graced the dining table. Fry-ups on shovels, canapes on bricks, bangers and mash in a pint glass. Maybe you're already familiar with the  #We Want Plates Twitter campaign?

But wooden boards have many benefits, whether used as a cutting surface or to serve food, clearly never suitable for both! Wood brings a warm, organic feel to the table and has inherently antimicrobial properties. But that doesn't make it any more hygienic. Wooden boards are actually the most difficult to clean thoroughly. This is because of grooves in its surface that appear over time, bringing with it bad company in the form of harmful bacteria.

Most boards cannot be put through a dishwasher, meaning more care and attention is needed when hand washing. They are also vulnerable to prolonged contact with water, causing them to warp and crack which makes the problem even worse.

How bad can it be?

Something like this, beyond salvage.

An aged, battered old wooden board maybe perfect for the garden whilst foraging for herbs and mushrooms, but surely never for serving food to customers in a restaurant? 

No wonder just such a board proved a cause for concern to health authorities.

What's the solution?

There are three simple ways to avoid poor hygiene on wooden boards:
  • Replace wooden boards when they become scored or stained
  • Clean and sanitise thoroughly 
  • Consider using them only for pre-prepared foods such as charcuterie or bread

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.

By Jeff Gibson

“Food is quite simply a way of life for me, as are the kitchen tools and gadgets that make cooking quicker and simpler. If I'm not enjoying a great meal then I'm in the kitchen experimenting or reading about the latest kitchenware products. ”


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