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Thread: wood cutting boards in a commercial kitchen

  1. #11
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    ecchef- our state code is probably similar to the one you stated. I am still digging around to find out for sure.

    First day with my maple edge grain board at work today. So darn nice to use a wood board at work! It is a bit under sized and edge grain but still a whole lot better than ploy! I might look around for a larger low cost end grain board to replace this one for work.

  2. #12
    Senior Member aaamax's Avatar
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    Plastic for your knife is about as fun as putting a rubber on your…
    Only once have I been questioned about my wood cutting boards during a health run. Just had to assure that they were being kept clean and not mixing veg/proteins etc. In honesty, take a swab of any surface at your station and you'll find all manner of nasties, no matter how well one cleans. Not saying hygiene isn't important, IT'S VERY important, but the whole plastic vs wood in regards to this question, well, the health dept. should worry about other things.
    As you can probably tell, I hate plastic and all its ilk. There is nothing like a nice soft-wood, yes, you read right, soft wood, as in pine, cutting board. Forces you to have a light touch as well so you improve your technique.
    Try it sometime with your favorite blade and damn if there is any going back to regular boards.
    Cheers.
    Long live Carbon!!

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecchef View Post
    I'm governed by the (Federal) Tri-Service Food Code which states:

    4-101.17 Wood, use limitation
    (A) Except as specified in ¶¶ (B), (C), and (D) of this section, wood and wood wicker may
    not be used as a FOOD-CONTACT SURFACE.
    (B) Hard maple or an equivalently hard, close-grained wood may be used for:
    (1) Cutting boards, cutting blocks, bakers’ tables, and UTENSILS such as rolling pins,
    doughnut dowels, salad bowls, sushi bamboo rolls, chopsticks; and
    (2) Wooden paddles used in confectionery operations for pressure scraping kettles when
    manually preparing confections at a temperature of 230oF (110oC) or above.

    Not sure how closely individual States follow this model.
    I can't remember the exact statute, but pretty sure it's similar in NYC. You see wood used more often in butcher shops, and pizza places use wooden peels. Some sushi places use hinoki wood, others use sanituff. The few high end kitchens I've been in or staged in used plastic. Unceremoniously. Like, a big sanitizer-filled bin for clean boards, and another bin to toss used boards into.

    I dislike cutting on plastic, but the way I cut now there's so little board contact that I can get used to it.

    At home I really like my big maple Boardsmith board, but sometimes use my girlfriend's poly boards just for convenience. There's something comforting about beater tools. One less thing to think about.

  4. #14
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    Usually the argument against wood is that it's porous, and therefore impossible to sanitize. This is proof that a little knowledge is dangerous.

    Wood IS porous. It's also part of a formerly living thing that needed to defend itself against infection, and the bark was not it's only defence mechanism. When poly boards fist came along, they were far worse than wooden boards in terms of sanitization. The micro-grooves caused by normal use provided excellent hiding places for bacteria, which grew and thrived much better than the same bacteria on wood. So, now all poly boards have built-in anti-bacterial agents. How did they figure out how to do this? They copied what wood was already doing!

    All of the woods used to produce cutting boards have natural anti-bacterial properties. Some more than others. Hinoki and other soft woods are actually much better in this regard, as well as better for your knives. No, you can't run them through the dishwasher, but you don't need to.

    So, the answer to your question depends more on your inspector than it does on your local regulations. Some inspectors know the score; many do not. If you've got a good one, they won't hassle you about it, regardless of what the rules say.

  5. #15
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    I use an Asahi board from Korin at work and at home and I love it. I also have a pretty nice end grain boos butcher block at the house but usually work with the Asahi on top to make clean up easier.

    One thing I've always wondered about was using a wooden Hangiri at work to mix rice. Only one of my inspectors has even noticed it. He said as long as it was in good shape(not falling apart/clean) he was good with it. He told us the only thing he really stressed in a Sushi bar other than general cleanliness was the PH of rice, fish temps in coolers/showcases, and gloves.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveInMesa View Post
    It's also part of a formerly living thing that needed to defend itself against infection, and the bark was not it's only defence mechanism.
    I've read this explanation before. I've also read the half-dozen or so peer-reviewed studies on the safety of wood boards vs. plastic ones. In terms of the broad strokes—that wood boards are safe—you're right. But there's no basis or the bacteriolocidal story. Wood cutting boards don't kill pathogens.

    The real story is more mundane; the pores are small, and any pathogens that find their way into them are held safely away from the food, where they eventually die of their own accord. The surface of the wood, which the food contacts, can be washed and sanitized, and sanded when it gets carved up. The only real downside to wood is that you can't throw it in a dishwasher.

    The recommendation in the the Health Dept. statute cited above is that hard, closed-grain woods be used. This is important; open-grain woods like oak could harbor bacteria in places that are both exposed to food and hard to clean. They behave like a board (wood or plastic) that's full of knife grooves.

  7. #17
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    "Wood cutting boards don't kill pathogens." depends on size of pathogen and how hard you hit it

  8. #18
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    Here is a study that is often sited regarding the wood vs plastic debate: http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/fa...ttingboard.htm

    I always leave it up to the individual to make their own decision and check their local regs.

    I know several restaurants that use my wood serving trays, some local regs allow this but I've been told it is questionable in some places.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    I've read this explanation before. I've also read the half-dozen or so peer-reviewed studies on the safety of wood boards vs. plastic ones.
    Being peer-reviewed, unfortunately, no longer means anything. There are enough desperate pseudo-scientists out there willing to agree to anything in return for the guarantee of an equally favorable review on their own papers. These days, it's necessary to know the source and the source of the funding of any published research.

    However, some things are well-established facts. All woods are composed primarily of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Lignin is made up of mostly coniferyl alcohol and, in hardwoods, sinapyl alcohol. Any form of alcohol is an effective antimicrobial. Coniferyl alcohol, being abundantly available, is used as the basis of a number of effective insecticides, as well. That would indicate substantially more killing power than is needed to eliminate most bacteria.

    One of the few studies to examine this question that wasn't funded by the oil industry, directly or indirectly, was the one by the U.C Davis Food Safety Laboratory, which concluded that "disease bacteria such as these (Salmonella and e. Coli) were not recoverable from wooden surfaces in a short time after they were applied, unless very large numbers (of bacteria) were used." In other words, something was killing them without human intervention.

    It went on further to state that "New plastic surfaces allowed the bacteria to persist, but were easily cleaned and disinfected. However, wooden boards that had been used and had many knife cuts acted almost the same as new wood, whereas plastic surfaces that were knife-scarred were impossible to clean and disinfect".

    In addition, although state and local health regulations may impose stricter guidelines than the Federal standards (so, don't assume the Federal standards will protect you, entirely), "the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Inspection Manual (official regulations) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 1999 Food Code (recommended regulations for restaurants and retail food sales in the various states of the U.S.) permit use of cutting boards made of maple or similar close-grained hardwood. They do not specifically authorize acceptable plastic materials, nor do they specify how plastic surfaces must be maintained."

    A separate study (Kass, P.H., et al., Disease determinants of sporadic salmonellosis in four northern California counties: a case control study of older children and adults. Ann. Epidemiol. 2:683-696, 1992.), found that "those (home cooks) using wooden cutting boards in their home kitchens were less than half as likely as average to contract salmonellosis, those using synthetic (plastic or glass) cutting boards were about twice as likely as average to contract salmonellosis; and the effect of cleaning the board regularly after preparing meat on it was not statistically significant".

    You can read the rest here, if you like. Emphasis added above, to make it easier to read.

    I should probably mention that I use both wood and plastic. I'm not anti-plastic, just pro-facts.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by BorkWoodNC View Post
    Here is a study that is often sited regarding the wood vs plastic debate: http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/fa...ttingboard.htm
    Hah! We both referenced the same study.

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