Wood has played a functional part in the kitchen for centuries. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing for a domestic kitchen, but provides wear resistance and hygienic properties in a commercial setting.
A few year ago, a group of health and safety experts, employed by the U.S agricultural office, deemed plastic boards to be the safest option due to their non porous properties. The same experts have since admitted that the claims they made, were potentially incorrect. This was due to the lack of background research performed.
Later, Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D conducted further research into the properties of wood and plastic. The results of which, transpired to show that certain types of wood, for example oak and pine, were effective at both stopping bacteria from breeding and killing off the germs.
Wood like plastic, needs to be maintained in the correct manner to support hygiene. Wood should not be placed in the dishwasher or soaked for long periods in water.
Wood is porous which means it absorbs water, resulting in splitting. Once split, the wood will be difficult to dry out, any cracks could remain damp, forming the perfect atmosphere for bacteria. Instead, wiping wood with appropriate antibacterial sprays and a damp cloth is recommended. No one should be afraid to use wood in a kitchen atmosphere, as long as it is appropriately cared for it can last for many years.
Take a butchers block for example, these hard-wearing wood surfaces are used to cut meat upon everyday and can last for decades when appropriately cared for.
Roweca is a great alternative to wood, for both preparing and serving food. Also known as Epicurean, it is manufactured from recycled paper, therefore environmentally friendly. It provides the aesthetic of slate or wood depending on the colour chosen and for ease of use, it can be placed in the dishwasher. Wood, plastic or wood alternatives are all great surfaces for preparing food. But, at the end of the day, chefs and caterers should be able to choose according to their own preference and follow supplier care instructions.