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Hygienic aspects of using wooden and plastic cutting boards, assessed in laboratory and small gastronomy units



There is a long-term controversy on the safety of using hardwood cutting boards in food preparation. This study was designed to compare three types of cutting boards (maple, beech wood, polyethylene) in the laboratory and in a small gastronomic unit. Samples for microbiological analysis were collected by a swabbing method from the boards' surfaces that had been contaminated with a defined meat-egg-mixture and subsequently cleaned according to manufacturers' instructions. Our study did not show significant differences between the microbiological status of the three types of cutting boards tested, all of them being overall acceptable. Use of the maple board in a small gastronomic unit for 2 months did not result in problems in cleanability.
1 23
Journal für Verbraucherschutz und
Journal of Consumer Protection and
Food Safety
ISSN 1661-5751
J. Verbr. Lebensm.
DOI 10.1007/s00003-015-0949-5
Hygienic aspects of using wooden and
plastic cutting boards, assessed in
laboratory and small gastronomy units
Friedrich-Karl Lücke & Agnieszka
1 23
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Hygienic aspects of using wooden and plastic cutting boards,
assessed in laboratory and small gastronomy units
Friedrich-Karl Lu¨cke
Agnieszka Skowyrska
Received: 18 March 2015 / Accepted: 9 June 2015
Ó Bundesamt fu¨r Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL) 2015
Abstract There is a long-term controversy on the
safet y of using hardwood cutting boards in food
preparation. This study was designed to compare
three types of cut ting boards (maple, beech wood,
polyethylene) in the laboratory and in a small gas-
tronomic unit. Samples for microbiological analysis
were collected by a swabbing method from the
boards’ surfaces that had been contaminated with a
defined meat–egg-mixture and subsequently cleaned
according to manufacturers instruc tions. Our study
did not show significant differences between the
microbiological status of the thre e types of cutting
boards tested, all of them being overall acceptable.
Use of the maple board in a small gastronomic unit
for 2 months did not result in problems in
Keywords Cutting boards Wood Plastic
Hygiene Cross-contamination
1 Introduction
Nowadays, cutting boards for food processing are
available in a variety of materials such as: different
types of woods, bamboo, polymers, glass, stainless
steel etc. However, until the early 1970s, wood was
the predominating material (Ak et al. 1994).
Cross-contamination of foods with foodborne
pathogenic bacteria is a major cause for foodborne
diseases. Van Asselt et al. (2008) emphasized that
cross-contamination of food at home was an impor-
tant factor, and suggested it could be included in
microbiological risk assessments (MRAs) performed
for the whole food supply chain.
The present regu lations and standards on cutting
boards are mainly based on the assumption that
wooden cutting boards are difficult to clean. Annex II
Chapter V No. 1 (b) of Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004
(European Community 2004) indicates that ‘all arti-
cles, fittings and equipment with which food comes
into contact are to (a) be effectively cleaned and,
where necessary, disinfected. Cleaning and disinfec-
tion are to take place at a frequency sufficient to
avoid any risk of contamination; (b) be so con-
structed, be of such materials and be kept in such
good order, repair and condition as to minimize any
risk of contamination’’. Acco rding to Annex 1.1 of the
German ‘General Procedural Regulation on Food
Hygiene’ (AVV Lebensmittelhygiene 2009), the risk of
contamination is normally not minimized if wooden
equipment is used for purposes other than chopping
blocks, smoking and ripening rooms and pallets to be
used for transportation of packaged food.
Sector-specific guidelines, including various Guides
to Good Hygienic Practice notified according to
Directive (EC) No. 93/43 (European Community 1993)
and Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 (European Com-
munity 2004), describe the properties of food contact
materials. Generally, they should be smooth, free of
grooves and cracks, easy to be cleaned and, where
appropriate, to be disinfected. Some Guides also pro-
vide recommendations on the material of the items.
& Friedrich-Karl Lu¨cke
Department of Nutritional, Food and Consumer
Sciences (OE), Fulda University of Applied Sciences,
Leipziger Straße 123, 36037 Fulda, Germany
J. Verbr. Lebensm.
DOI 10.1007/s00003-015-0949-5
Journal fu
r Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit
Journal of Consumer Protection and Food Safety
Author's personal copy
For the present study, guides prepared for gas-
tronomy and catering units are relevant. The Guide
to Good Hygienic Practice prepared by the DEHOGA
(2006) for gastronomy does not specify the material
for food contact items. In the 2010 version of the
Guide to Good Hygienic Practice in small movable
and/or temporary premises, published by the Berufs-
genossenschaft Nah rungsmittel und Gaststa
(2010), it is stated that ‘tools and contact surfaces
made from wood, as well as cutting boards from
plastic, must be clean and must have a smooth sur-
face without grooves. They must be kept in good
conditions. For many purposes, wood surfaces are
not appropriate, due to their porous surface. In
exceptional cases, for technological reasons, wooden
tools and surfaces are used, e.g. for rolling out
doughs for baked goods, and for chopping blocks in
meat processing. This requires higher efforts for
cleaning’’. According to the Guide to Good Hygienic
Practice for catering units (Deutscher Caritasverband
und Diakonie 2009), furnishing in large kitchens
should not be made from wood while for tools
including cutting boar ds, it is only stated that they
should not consist of soft wood or soft plastics.
On the other hand, Ak et al. (1994) pointed out that
there is poor evidence that the restrictions of use of
wooden cutting boards in food processing industr y
and in gastronomy is justified by hygienic argu-
ments. In their experiments, the recovery of bacteria
from the surface of experimentally inoculated woo-
den blocks was much lower than from plastic boards,
indicating that bacteria are absorbed and sucked into
the wood. This study triggered various other studies
on the fate of bacterial contaminants on cutting
boards. Ro¨del et al. (1994) could recover inoculated
bacteria from samples retrieved from the upper
0.25 mm layer of wooden cutting boards, especially
after the bacteria had been inoculated together with
bovine serum albumin. However, Bours illon and
Riethmu¨ller (2007) did not observe differences
between beechwood and polyethylene boards with
respect to remobilization of bacteria, and Cliver
(2006) stressed that re-transfer of bacteria from the
interior of the wood to food via knives has not been
demonstrated yet. Wood constituents, especially
those from pine, may also play a role in inactivating
adsorbed bacteria (Milling et al. 2005). Gehrig et al.
(2000) reported that bacteria may grow on cutting
boards while wet, and that wooden boards with
porous surface dry faster. Moreover, they found that
surface scars on used wooden boards did not affect
this process while scars in plastic boards delay drying
Taken together, there is still controversy on the
hygiene of using wooden cutting boards but reviews
on this problem (Carpentier 1997; Lauzon 1998; Cliver
2006; Stingl and Domig 2008) and various other
recent studies (e.g. Prechter et al. 2002; Milling et al.
2005; Boursillon and Riethmu¨ller 2007) concluded
that there is no evidence for the superiority of plastic
cutting boards.
In the USA, it is permitted to use hardwood cut ting
surfaces in commercial food preparation provided
the surface material had been certified by the
National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). This is why we
included in our study a cutting board made from
NSF-certified North American hard maple. We also
tested this board in a real gastronomy environment
where boards are used continuously and accumulate
cuttings. In laboratory experiments (sporadic, gentle
and careful usage with no surface dama ge), we also
compared the maple board with one board from
beech and one board from polyethylene under
hygienic aspects. For this, we assessed the microbial
contamination by enumerating total aerobic meso-
philic microorganisms and Enterobacteriaceae on
cutting boards after artificial contamination and
common cleaning procedures.
2 Materials and methods
2.1 Cutting boards used
For the purpose of this study, we used three types of
cutting boards, namely, made from hard North
American maple certified in the USA by National
Sanitation Foundation (NSF) (manufacturer: John
Boos & Co.; Brand: Boos Blocks
), beech wood, as
commonly used in homes (manufacturer: Roesle),
and polyethylene hard plastic widespread in the food
industry (manufacturer: Dick). All boards were new
and hand-washed before the first use. To maintain
the surface quality and a good cutting performance,
the instructions provided by the producer of the
maple board were followed: the board was oiled with
special mineral oil (BoosBlocks
Mystery Oil) before
the first use and af ter the third round of the labora-
tor y experiments, and after 3 weeks of use in the
bistro unit, respectively.
Different cleaning conditions were applied for
plastic and wooden cutting boards. The plastic board
was placed in an industrial dishwasher (Winterhalter
UC-L) using standard detergent (Winterhalter F 8400)
and conditions (washing temperature of 60 °C for
2 min, followed by rinsing at 85 °C), then wiped with
F.-K. Lu¨cke, A. Skowyrska
Author's personal copy
clean clo th and left to dry for 30 min. Wooden
boards were hand washed under warm tap water
with commercially available washing liquid (Palmo-
) and by using a soft cloth. After that they were
wiped with clean cloth and air dried for 30 min.
2.2 Method of artificial contamination
As a contaminant used in the laboratory experi-
ments, a food mixture, based to some extent on food
items used for testing of cleaning performance of
household used dishwashers, as specified in the
standard DIN EN 50242/EN 60436 (2008), was pre-
pared as follows: Minced meat was purchased in a
local supe rmarket, transported to the laboratory
kitchen and left at room temperature for 12 h (in
order to stimulate microbial growth). Then, 75 g of
minced beef and 75 g of minced pork were mixed
with the contents (albumen and yolk) of a me dium-
size egg (50 g). The resulting mixture had a pH of 5.8.
20 g of the mixture were then removed for micro-
biological analysis, homogenized in 180 ml of 0.85 %
sodium chloride solution containing 0.1 % tryptone.
Appropriate dilutions were then spread on Plate
Count Agar (PCA; Merck KGaA, Darmstadt) and Violet
Red Bile Glucose Agar (VRBG; Merck KGaA, Darm-
stadt), for the enumeration of aerobic mesophilic
microorganisms and Enterobacteriaceae, respectively,
and incubated at 30 °C for 2 days. In the contami-
nant mixture, Pseudomonas spp. were also
enumerated, using Cetrimid Fucidin Cep haloridin
Agar (CFC; Oxoid No. CM 0559). For the subsequent
contamination experiments, the remaining mixture
was rapidly frozen and stored at -21 °C.
2.3 Design of the study
The experiments were designed in a way to simulate
normal usage conditions of cutting boards at home
and in small gastronomic units. In addition, b oards
were tested in a laborator y setting where they a re
no cuts wi th knives. The first par t of the study was
performed in a laboratory kitchen at Fulda Univer-
sity of Applied Sciences, and the second one took
place in a bistro-type unit which provides meals for
company workers and thus served as a model for
conditions in small g astronomy units and in private
In the first part of the study, all three cutting
boards (maple, beech and plastic) were examined in
five repeated experiments. For each repetition, the
frozen food mixture (prepared as described in Sect.
2.2) was thawed in cold water for about 30 min. 30 g
of the mixture were then mixed with 8 ml of cold tap
water, applied to the boards and left for 10 min. In
the meantime, the un-inoculated part of the board
was swabbed. After the food mixture had been
removed from the boards, they were left for 2 h at
room temperature. Subsequently, the contaminated
area was swabbed. Then, boards were washed as
specified above, wiped with clean cloth and left to
dry for 30 min. The last two samples were then taken
by swabbing the un-inoculated (control) areas and
contaminated areas of the boards, respectively.
In the second part of the study, only the maple
board was used. It was washed and oil treated simi-
larly as the other wooden boards in the first part of
the study before star ting the experiment s. It was left
with a small gastronomy unit (company bistro) for
2 months. During this time the board was used once
ever y working day for about 1.5 h for preparation of
sandwiches (cutting fresh vegetables, bread and rolls,
breakfast meat products and cheeses) and cleaned
manually after use. Samples were taken three times
(after the 2nd, 5th and 8th week of use). At each
sampling day, the first swab was taken after the
preparation of the last sandwiches and the second
swab after cleaning. After 2 months of use in the
bistro, the board was transported to the laboratory
kitchen. There, it was artificially contaminated,
washed and sampled in the same way as in the first
part of our stud y, in order to find out differences
between the maple board used in the laboratory
kitchen (no cut ting on the board and no damage to
the surface) and the one used in the small gastro-
nomic unit (frequently used and with visible grooves
on the surface).
2.4 Sample coding, collection and analysis
of samples
Samples were removed by swabbing from the surface
of 20 cm
and placing the swabs in 5 ml 0.85 % saline
solution. Subsequently, this dilution was inoculated
on: Plate Cou nt Agar (PCA, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt)
and Crystal violet Neutral Red Bile Glucose Agar
(VRBG, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt), incubated aerobi-
cally for 48 h at 30 °C, in order to obtain CFU/cm
aerobic mesophilic microorganisms and Enterobac-
teriaceae, respectively. The results were calculated
according to standard DIN 10113-1 (1998). The detec-
tion limit was 2.5 CFU/cm
(50 CFU/sample).
Hygienic aspects of wooden and plastic cutting boards
Author's personal copy
3 Results and discussion
Samples from new cutting boards without grooves,
obtained in the laboratory kitchen before cleaning,
had mean counts of aerobic mesophilic microor-
ganisms of 7.5, 23.5 and 41 CFU/cm
for maple, beech
and plastic boards, respectively. No Enterobacteria-
ceae were detected. The meat-egg mixture used for
contamination of the boards contained 1.7 9 10
7.7 9 10
and 4.5 9 10
/g of mesophilic aerobes, En-
terobacteriaceae, and Pseudomonas spp., respectively.
Samples obtained from the boards after artificial
contamination had 327 CFU/cm
(maple board) and
more than 500 CFU/cm
(beech and plastic board).
Enterobacteriaceae were found on only 4 of 12 samples
tested, with counts not exceeding 45 CFU/cm
. The
data are summarized in Table 1.
After cleaning, no Enterobacteriaceae were detec-
ted in any sample. Moreover, 23 of 30 samples had
less than 2.5 CFU/cm
of aerobic mesophilic
microorganisms, irrespective of previous contami-
nation. Of the remaining 7 samples having counts
between 2.5 and a maximum of 32.5 CFU/cm
, 3 were
obtained from the beech wood board, and 2 each
from the maple and plastic board.
Results from experiments performed in a small
gastronomic unit using the maple cutting board are
compiled in Table 1, too. Samples were collected
three times from the board before and after the
cleaning procedure. The results obtained after 2 and
5 weeks of use did not differ significantly from those
obtained after 8 weeks of use and were not included
into Table 1. Cleaning of the board gave reduction of
aerobic mesophilic microorganisms to 5 CFU/cm
below. All samples collected had \2.5 CFU/cm
The final part of the study was performed in the
laboratory kitchen with use of all three types of cut-
ting boards (maple, beech and plasti c) as well as and
the maple board used previously in the bistro in
Experiment 2). This trial was conducted according to
the procedure in Experiment 1. Important difference
between maple board from Experiment 1 and the
maple board used for 2 mont hs in bistro was the
presence of small grooves from knife cut s on the
surface of the bistro board. Bacterial counts on the
boards used in the laboratory kitchen were similar to
those obtained in the first experiment and therefore
included in Table 1. Only the aerobic mesophilic
count on one plastic board after cleaning (32.5 CFU/
) was classified as unacceptable. Count s on all
wooden boards after applying the cleaning proce-
dure can be qualified as acceptable. The maple board
used in the bi stro for 8 weeks contained more than
500 aerobic mesophilic bacteria before and no
detectable bacteria (\2.5/cm
) after cleaning.
Table 1 Counts of microorganisms on cutting boards before and after cleaning
Inoculated Status cleaning Type of the board Samples with aerobic
mesophilic count/cm
Samples with
\2.5 2.5–24 25–249 [250 \2.5 2.5–24 25–250
No (control) Before Maple (used in laboratory) 4 1 1 0 6 0 0
Maple (used in bistro) 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Beech 2 4 0 0 6 0 0
Plastic 1 4 1 0 6 0 0
After Maple (used in laboratory) 5 0 1 (32.5) 0 6 0 0
Maple (used in bistro) 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Beech 4 2 (12.5; 2.5) 0 0 6 0 0
Plastic 5 0 1 (37.5) 0 6 0 0
Yes Before Maple (used in laboratory) 0 0 2 4 5 1 0
Maple (used in bistro) 0 0 0 4 4 0 0
Beech 0 0 0 6 2 0 4
Plastic 0 0 0 6 1 2 3
After Maple (used in laboratory) 5 1 (7.5) 0 0 6 0 0
Maple (used in bistro) 2 2 (5; 2.5) 0 0 4 0 0
Beech 5 1 (2.5) 0 0 6 0 0
Plastic 3 2 (2.5; 2.5) 1 (32.5) 0 6 0 0
Counts above 2.5 CFU/cm
on cleaned boards are given in brackets
F.-K. Lu¨cke, A. Skowyrska
Author's personal copy
Similar results were reported by Miller et al. (1996)
who found no significant differences in bacterial
loads on plastic and hardwood cutting boards after
contamination with ground beef and subsequent
Kleiner and Lampe (2014) also compared the Boos
maple cutting board with a polyethylene
board, by cutting chicken or salad on them and
manually cleaning them. In ter ms of hygiene, they
found the oil-treated maple board equal or superior
to the polyethylene board, even after various use and
cleaning cycles over 4 weeks, with ever increasing
numbers of scrat ches on the boards. The lowest
counts after cleaning were obtained from a maple
board not treated with oil. Apparently, the contami-
nant liquid was sucked into this board, and bacterial
contaminants may also have been inactivated by
wood constituents.
In the studies performed by Cools et al . (2005)
and Moore et al. (2007), the inactivation of
microorganisms (Campylobacter jejuni and Sal-
monella Typhimurium, respectively) on the surfaces
studied (including beech wood, polypropylene,
stainless steel and Formica) over time was measured.
In both studies, there was a significant reduction of
recovered microorga nisms with time from all tested
surfaces. Cools et al. (2005) did not observe signifi-
cant differences between materials while Moore
et al. (2007) found a much faster inactivation on
The authors studying the recovery of microor-
ganisms from common food contact surfaces,
especially in home kitchens, uniformly highlight the
need for proper cleaning and disinfection of used
utensils (especially cutting boards) in order to mini-
mize the cross-contamination effect. Repeated
cleaning of wooden boards in the dishwasher under
harsh conditions resulted in cracks sufficiently large
to entrap bacteria, and in adsorption of organic
matter and bacteria (Welker et al. 1997), and should
be avoided.
There are no legal standards on acceptable
microbial counts on food contact surfaces, and it
makes lit tle sense to introduce them (see e.g. ICMSF
2002). However, the repealed Decision 2001/417 by
the European Commission (European Community
2001) stated that on surfaces which are cleaned, dry
and smooth, and which have contact with meat or
poultry in slaughter houses or cutting rooms, total
viable counts below 10 CFU/cm
and of Enterobacte-
riaceae below 1 CFU/cm
are acceptable. Hence, we
conclude that on cleaned boards, the counts
observed and listed in Table 1 are acceptable.
4 Conclusions
The experiments performed both in the laboratory
kitchen (with three different cutting boards) and in
the bistro (with maple board) showed no significant
differences in microbiological counts on wooden and
plastic cutting boards after proper cleaning. The
overall hygienic status of the examined boards was
good and classified as acceptable. We found no evi-
dence for an increased microbiological risk when
properly maintained wooden cutting boards are used
at home or in gastronomic units. Nevertheless,
cleaning procedures (hand wash vs. use of dish-
washer) should be always adjusted according to the
material of the boards. Hence, the instructions of the
manufacturers on cleaning and maintenance should
be followed, to ensure optimal performance and
safet y of the food preparation.
Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank Margit
Ochs and Viktoria Fritz for their technical support and overall
contribution. The study was supported by Fo¨rdergesellschaft
der Heiz- und Kochgera
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F.-K. Lu¨cke, A. Skowyrska
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... For example, the electron microscopy revealed that the cuts on wood surfaces open in the drying process and cleaning also becomes easier (Gehrig et al. 2000), at least not more difficult as compared to plastic (Boursillon and Riethmüller 2007;Lucke and Skowyrska 2015). Meanwhile, under similar circumstances, the plastic surface cuts have a closing structure that can provide shelter to microbes (Gehrig et al. 2000). ...
... Many studies have shown that wood surfaces are not more difficult to clean as compared to other non-porous surfaces (Ak et al. 1994a, b;Lucke and Skowyrska 2015). ...
... The results showed that wood was more efficiently cleaned with all types of products as compared to glass, plastic and antibacterial plastic surfaces. Lucke and Skowyrska (2015) also reported that after proper cleaning, the microbial counts were the same on polyethylene, maple and beech cutting boards, suggesting that the wood material is not worse in cleanability than commonly used plastic. ...
The wood material provides a nature-based theme to construction because of its natural appearance, ecofriendly nature and biophilic effects on humans. However, its organic and porous nature is questioned when using it in hygienically important places such as hospitals. Studies have shown that wood has antimicrobial properties against some pathogens; work is still needed, however, to demonstrate this antimicrobial action and its relation to wood and microbiological variables. This research gathers and generates information to guide stakeholders of hospital hygiene on the hygienic safety of wood materials. First, a simple and direct method was developed to study the antibacterial and antifungal activity of solid wood, which also identified the role of wood and microbial variables on antimicrobial behavior. Further, an elution based bacterial recovery method was investigated which showed that the most common nosocomial bacteria did not survive as well on wood as compared to smooth surfaces such as aluminum, steel and polycarbonate. Meanwhile, an innovative tool was developed, involving the use of fluorescent probes to study the bacterial distribution on and inside wood using confocal spectral laser microscopy. These experiments produced the information that will help the decision makers regarding the choice of wood material in the healthcare buildings. It not only enhances our understanding of hygienic safety of wood in healthcare buildings but also provides the basis for future research on the prevalence of pathogens in the wooden healthcare institutes and the perception of the occupants those buildings.
... However, studies have shown that the weathering conditions affect other materials too and scored wood surfaces has been seen to perform better than other in use scored surfaces like plastic, regarding the survival of microbes. The electron microscopy reveals that the cuts on wood surface open in the drying process and therefore bacteria cannot survive and cleaning also becomes easier [29], at least not more difficult as compare to plastic [65] [66]. 157 Health structure which can provide shelter for microbial survival [29]. ...
... As a misconception, the absorbance potential and porous nature of wood is generally considered as a hindrance in cleaning process. However, many studies have shown that wood surfaces are not more difficult to clean as compared to other non-porous surfaces [66] [77] [78]. Even, the ordinary washing of wood and plastic preparation surfaces in the kitchen gives the satisfactory results regarding the elimination of hygienically important microbes from these surfaces [20]. ...
... The results showed that wood was more efficiently cleaned with all types of products as compared to glass, plastic and antibacterial plastic surfaces. Lücke and Skowyrska, [66] also reported that after proper cleaning, the microbial counts were same on polyethylene, maple and beech cutting boards, suggesting that the wood material is not worse in cleanability than commonly used plastic. ...
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Wood, as a contact surface, has been used for centuries but is usually questioned because of its porosity and organic composition. It has natural antimicrobial properties and, hygienically, can stand the comparison with other materials such as plastic, glass and steel. In this review, we focused on potential microbe-inhibiting properties of wooden surfaces being used in hygienically important places like health institutes and food industries. This article addresses the questionable properties of untreated wood like hygroscopicity, porosity, roughness and chemical composition, and their relation to the hygienic and antimicrobial nature of this material. The other factors linked to the hygienic properties of wood, such as age, species and type of wood, have also been discussed. Our analysis of literature will create better understanding for acceptance of wood as a safety renewable resource. It also provides an outline for future research considering wood material in critical healthcare or food industries.
... The most recent study comparing wooden and plastic cutting boards after proper cleaning was carried out by Lücke and Skowyrska (2015). They used 3 types of cutting boards: NSF R certified hardwood cutting boards (made of maple), beechwood cutting boards commonly used in homes, and polyethylene hard plastic boards. ...
... No significant differences in microbiological counts on wooden and plastic cutting boards were detected after proper cleaning. No evidence was found for an increased microbiological risk when properly maintained wooden cutting boards are used at home or in gastronomic units (Lücke and Skowyrska 2015). The authors underlined the importance of following the instructions of the manufacturers of wooden cutting boards for cleaning and first use to ensure food safety. ...
Food packaging is multifunctional: it protects from harvest to table. Four main groups of materials for direct food contact are mentioned in the literature: wood, glass, plastic, and metal. In this review, the focus is on wooden packaging for direct contact with food. In Europe, wood as a food contact material is subject to European Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 states that materials must not transfer their constituents to food. Today, wooden packaging, like other packaging materials, does not have a Europe-wide harmonized specific regulation, so member countries legislate at different levels. Wood has been safely used for centuries in contact with food but is usually questioned because of its microbiological behavior compared with smooth surfaces. Based on a review of published conclusions from scientific studies over the last 20 y and after a description of the general properties of wooden packaging, we focus on the microbiological status of natural wood. Then, we discuss the parameters influencing the survival of microorganisms on wood. Finally, we report on the transfer of microorganisms from wood to food and the factors influencing this phenomenon. This review demonstrates that the porous nature of wood, especially when compared with smooth surfaces, is not responsible for the limited hygiene of the material used in the food industry and that it may even be an advantage for its microbiological status. In fact, its rough or porous surface often generates unfavorable conditions for microorganisms. In addition, wood has the particular characteristic of producing antimicrobial components able to inhibit or limit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms.
... The porosity of wood does not necessarily impact its cleaning, for example, studies of wooden cutting boards have shown that the in-use methods of cleaning were equally efficient for wood as they were for plastic surfaces [59,[74][75][76][77][78][79]. In addition, washing does not decrease the cleanability of wood over time [80] and the action of disinfectants in cleaning equally efficient for cleaning E. coli, L. monocytogenes, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, C. jejuni, Salmonella Typhimurium, E. coli O157:H7 on both the plastic and wooden boards [81][82][83][84]. ...
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Wood materials are being adopted as nature-based architectural themes inside the healthcare buildings. Concern is raised that the organic and porous character of wood might support microbial survival. Therefore, this review discusses the hygienic properties of wood including the antimicrobial potential and its cleanability in comparison to smooth surface materials. In general, wood has antimicrobial properties owing to its chemical composition and physical structure. However, the hygienic potential of wood is influenced by the type of wood, age of wood, the cleaning method, surface treatment, and its moisture content. This information is intended to guide decision-makers regarding the use of wood in hygienically sensitive places and researchers to help them identify the variables for better utilizing the hygienic potential of this material.
... Swabbing is also a common method for collecting microorganisms from wooden surfaces [2,20,38,41,51,55,60,[95][96][97][98][99]. The swabs can be wet or dry and could be in form of cotton, foam, cloth, and sponge [35,40,73,100]. ...
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Some wood species have antimicrobial properties, making them a better choice over inert surfaces in certain circumstances. However, the organic and porous nature of wood raises questions regarding the use of this material in hygienically important places. Therefore, it is reasonable to investigate the microbial survival and the antimicrobial potential of wood via a variety of methods. Based on the available literature, this review classifies previously used methods into two broad categories: one category tests wood material by direct bacterial contact, and the other tests the action of molecules previously extracted from wood on bacteria and fungi. This article discusses the suitability of these methods to wood materials and exposes knowledge gaps that can be used to guide future research. This information is intended to help the researchers and field experts to select suitable methods for testing the hygienic safety and antimicrobial properties of wood materials.
... The success of cleaning procedures on removal of allergenic foods from food contact surfaces depends on several factors, including the types of surfaces and cleaning methods available, especially because both factors are interrelated (11,16). The effectiveness of wipes for allergen removal may also be impacted by the absorbency of the wipe, the solvent used for wet wipes, the state of the allergen matrix (wet, sticky or paste, or dry), and the amount of food or allergen loaded on the surface. ...
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Preventing the transfer of allergens from one food to another via food contact surfaces in retail food environments is an important aspect of retail food safety. Existing recommendations for wiping and cleaning food contact surfaces is mainly focused on preventing microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, from contaminating foods. The effectiveness of these wiping and cleaning recommendations for preventing the transfer of food allergens in retail and food service establishments remains unclear. This project investigated (i) allergen removal from surfaces by wiping with paper wipes, terry cloth, and alcohol quaternary ammonium chloride (quat) sanitizing wipes; (ii) cleaning of allergen-contaminated surfaces by using a wash–rinse–sanitize–air dry procedure; and (iii) allergen transfer from contaminated wipes to multiple surfaces. Food contact surfaces (stainless steel, textured plastic, and maple wood) were contaminated with peanut-, milk- and egg-containing foods and subjected to various wiping and cleaning procedures. For transfer experiments, dry paper wipes or wet cloths contaminated with allergenic foods were wiped on four surfaces of the same composition. Allergen-specific lateral flow devices were used to detect the presence of allergen residues on wiped or cleaned surfaces. Although dry wipes and cloths were not effective for removing allergenic foods, terry cloth presoaked in water or sanitizer solution, use of multiple quat wipes, and the wash–rinse–sanitize–air dry procedure were effective in allergen removal from surfaces. Allergens present on dry wipes were transferred to wiped surfaces. In contrast, minimal or no allergen transfer to surfaces was found when allergen-contaminated terry cloth was submerged in sanitizer solution prior to wiping surfaces. The full cleaning method (wash–rinse–sanitize–air dry) and soaking the terry cloth in sanitizer solution prior to wiping were effective at allergen removal and minimizing allergen transfer. HIGHLIGHTS
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This chapter explains about ergonomic problems faced by the chopping board users and their material and design preference
The Food Safety Modernization Act, specifically the Produce Safety Rule, requires growers to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces to protect against produce contamination. An ATP monitoring device is a potential sanitation tool to monitor the efficacy of an on-farm cleaning and sanitation program that could help growers meet regulatory expectations mandated by the Produce Safety Rule. This ATP monitoring device uses bioluminescence to detect all ATP (found in bacteria and produce matter cells) from a swabbed surface. Because little work has been done to test the efficacy of these tools under postharvest conditions, the present study evaluated ATP measurement for postharvest food contact surface cleanliness evaluation. Concentrations of leafy greens (spinach, romaine, and red cabbage, with or without Listeria innocua) were used as organic matter applied to stainless steel, high-density polyethylene plastic, and bamboo wood coupons to represent postharvest food contact surfaces. The ATP levels on the coupons were then measured by using swabs and an ATP monitoring device. Results showed that the concentration of L. innocua and leafy greens on a food contact surface had a highly significant effect on the ATP monitoring device reading (P < 0.0001). The ATP monitoring device had a lower limit of detection for L. innocua at 4.5 log CFU per coupon. The type of leafy green on a food contact surface did not affect the ATP reading (P = 0.88). Leafy greens with added L. innocua had a higher ATP reading when compared with saline and L. innocua, demonstrating the presence of leafy green matter contributes to ATP reading when combined with L. innocua. The different food contact surfaces had different ATP response readings (P = 0.03), resulting in no detectable levels of bacteria and/or leafy green material from bamboo wood surfaces (P = 0.16). On the basis of our results, the ATP measurement is an appropriate tool to measure produce or bacterial contamination on stainless steel or high-density polyethylene plastic surfaces; however, it is not recommended for wood surfaces. Highlights:
Two different TiO2 nanoparticles, NM101 and NM105, were evaluated against a range of Grampositive (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus lactis) and Gram-negative (Salmonella enterica var. Enteridis and Escherichia coli) bacteria. Both NM101 and NM105 TiO2 nanoparticles (UV-exposed or none) had a significant antibacterial activity when the concentration of TiO2 suspension was 100 μg mL−1. The activation of the TiO2 NPs led, in all cases, to a shift in the growth curve, revealing lower counts as the concentration increased. E. coli was the most significantly affected pathogen by both TiO2 nanoparticles reaching among 2–3 log CFU.mL−1 reduction. In addition, in the case of the probiotic bacteria, NM105 TiO2 nanoparticles had similar effects as the bacterial density was reduced by 2–3 log CFU.mL−1. These results may be applied as a potent technology to be included in the formulation of new disinfectants.
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E. coli kontaminiert und darauf die Koloniebildung (cfu = colony forming units) mit der Agar-Methode bestimmt. Bakterienwerte nach 15-stündiger Lagerung bei Raumtemperatur wurden verglichen mit Werten nach dem Waschen (maschinell und von Hand). In feuchter Umgebung zeigten beide Brettertypen hohe Bakterienwerte. Sogar das maschinelle Waschen reduzierte den Wert kaum. Wahrscheinlich bietet die feuchte Oberfläche ideale Bedingungen für die Koloniebildung. In trockenerer Umgebung wurden an Holzproben deutlich weniger Bakterien gezählt als an PE-Brettern. Der Grund dafür ist nicht eindeutig; es wurde aber beobachtet, dass die poröse Holzoberfläche schneller trocknete als die PE-Oberfläche. Weiterhin ergab sich aus elektronenmikroskopischen Beobachungen, dass die Kunststoffbretter nach einmonatigem Gebrauch eine rauhe und ausgehöhlte Oberfläche aufwiesen (allerdings ohne tiefe Poren). Bei Holz öffnen sich diese oberflächlichen Schnittspuren während des Trocknens, und die Bakterien können daher nicht überleben. Bei PE-Oberflächen wird vermutet, dass die Bakterien länger in den Vertiefungen verweilen können. An allen Materialien konnte die Bakterienzahl deutlich reduziert werden durch Handwaschen mit Detergentien und Bürsten, sowie Spülen mit warmem Wasser. Nach dieser Behandlung werden Bakterien nur vereinzelt angetroffen. Für Holz könnte eine noch stärkere Desinfektion mit der Mikrowellenmethode erreicht werden, die von Park and Cliver (1996) vorgeschahlagen wurde. Allgemein kann gesagt werden, daß Holz, anders als allgemein angenommen, nicht weniger hygienisch ist als PE. Die Behauptung, daß der Gebrauch von Holz für die Lebensmittelbearbeitung zu erhöhten hygienischen Risiken führt, konnte daher nicht bestätigt werden.
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Purpose – This study aims to compare the aptitude of pine as a softwood and beech as a hardwood, regarding their different retention and antimicrobial performances as compared to polyethylene. Design/methodology/approach – Four sets of tests were carried out: recovery, cleaning, remobilization and survival experiments. For all experiments wood and control blocks or chippings were spiked with bacteria and tested at set intervals for bacterial counts using standard procedures. Findings – Overall, wood performed at least as good as polyethylene. Polyethylene is not as easy to clean. The problematic cleansing capabilities of wood are compensated by its open structure. Pine exerted antimicrobial abilities faster than beech and showed better performance than both beech and polyethylene. The differences between beech and polyethylene were only marginal. Research limitations/implications – The findings may help along with further research to re-establish the value of wood in some food processing settings and in the home. However, only new materials were used so that no statement on the performance of used wood and plastic utensils can be made. Besides, only two types of woods and one type of plastic were used in this study. Originality/value – This article is written with the expertise of the authors and will be of interest to those in the field.
Hygienic aspects of cutting boards made of wood (european maple, beech and oak) and polyethylene (PE) were compared in order to determine the risk of food contamination in household and commercial kitchen. Boards were contaminated with Escherichia coli bacteria, and the colony forming units (cfu) were retrieved by agar contact methods. Bacteria counts after 15 hour storage at room temperature were compared to values obtained after machine and manual washing processes. Results showed that in very humid environment, both wood and PE showed very high numbers of bacteria. Even machine washing of the wet samples hardly reduced the cfu counted. Probably, the high bacteria density observed was due to the high surface moisture of the samples which led to ideal conditions for the microorganisms on the surface from where they are easily retrieved. In drier environment, contact plates removed significantly less bacteria from wood samples than from PE. The reason for this effect was not clearly established, but it was observed that the porous wood surface dried faster than the polyethylene surface. Also, observations of surface samples in a scanning electron microscope proved that after one month of intensive use polyethylene boards obtained a very rough and cavernous surface similar to wood (but with less profound porosity). On wood, these surface cuts open in the drying process and therefore bacteria cannot survive. However, on PE a retention of bacteria enclosed in caverns and the possibility of later release is suspected. On all materials a significant decrease of bacteria count was achieved upon manual washing with detergent and brush followed by rinsing under warm water. After this treatment, bacteria were recovered only sporadically. For wood, an even higher degree of disinfection could possibly be achieved with the microwave method suggested by Park and Cliver (1996). In general, the results of the present experiments show that wood is not, as commonly assumed, less hygienic than polyethylene. The statement that the use of wood in food processing increased the risk of infestation by microorganisms could therefore not be supported.
This bibliographic study on chopping board hygiene is based on 12 scientific publications indicating that little work has been done on this subject. Furthermore, some studies concern household chopping boards and others butchers' chopping blocks. Experimental factors were very different from one study to another and this could explain the different survival rates of bacteria after inoculation onto wooden surfaces. It seems that desiccation leads to loss of culturability of laboratory-grown micro-organisms, but the presence of organic matter may protect bacteria from desiccation. Natural microflora had higher survival rates than laboratory-grown bacteria. The bacteria sampling method is also of great importance: destructive methods like scraping gave the best bacteria recovery rates because bacteria can penetrate into the wood to a depth that depends on the orientation of the wood fibres. Also discussed is the lack of arguments to prove that plastics are more hygienic than wood for meat cutting boards. Only one field study compared wood and plastic as materials for meat cutting blocks. The only situation where plastic appeared less contaminated than wood (when sampling had been done by contact agar) was just after a drastic cleaning and disinfecting. But we do not know how long this difference was maintained during the working period, or whether the wood had been scraped before cleaning and disinfecting.
The potentials for removal of beef bacterial microflora from unscored polyethylene and hardwood cutting boards were compared. Ground beef was placed for 0 to 90 min onto cutting boards at room temperature and then removed; the surfaces were swabbed and the bacteria were enumerated. The boards were cleaned with various cleaning agents and then analyzed for bacterial removal. In addition, aqueous extracts from eight hardwoods were incubated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 for 0 to 30 h at 37°C to determine their inhibitory potential. Differences between the bacterial levels on wooden and plastic boards were not significant regardless of contact time. Washing with any cleaner, including water, removed most bacteria from either type of board. White ash extracts reduced E. coli O157:H7 levels to undetectable within 24 h; black cherry and red oak exhibited low inhibitory activity. Slight growth was observed in extracts from all other hardwoods, including hard maple, suggesting that aqueous extractable agents that are active against E. coli O157:H7 are not generally present in hardwoods. This study demonstrates the need to control cutting board sanitation regardless of composition.
The microbiology of plastic and wooden cutting boards was studied, regarding cross-contamination of foods in home kitchens. New and used plastic (four polymers plus hard rubber) and wood(nine hardwoods) cutting boards were cut into 5-cm squares("blocks"). Escherichia coli (two nonpathogenic strains plus type OI57:H7), Listeria innocua, L. monocytogenes, or Salmonella typhimurium was applied to the 25-cm2 block surface in nutrient broth or chicken juice and recovered by soaking the surface in nutrient broth or pressing the block onto nutrient agar, within 3-10 min or up to ca. 12 h later. Bacteria inoculated onto plastic blocks were readily recovered for minutes to hours and would multiply if held overnight. Recoveries from wooden blocks were generally less than those from plastic blocks, regardless of new or used status; differences increased with holding time. Clean wood blocks usually absorbed the inoculum completely within 3-10 min. If these fluids contained 103-104 CFU of bacteria likely to come from raw meat or poultry, the bacteria generally could not be recovered after entering the wood. If ≥106 CFU were applied, bacteria might be recovered from wood after 12 h at room temperature and high humidity, but numbers were reduced by at least 98%, and often more than 99.9%. Mineral oil treatment of the wood surface had little effect on the microbiological findings. These results do not support the often-heard assertion that plastic cutting boards are more sanitary than wood.