wood coming in contact with food?

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Forum topic by Greedo posted 06-05-2010 05:04 PM 994 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Greedo's profile


470 posts in 2377 days

06-05-2010 05:04 PM

hi all, im continuously wondering at the sight of all those great looking cutting boards etc, with all kinds of different wood species and intriquate patterns etc…, if all that is actually safe?
cutting boards, spoons, cutting planks, ice-cream sticks, etc… are traditionally made of beechwood, i knew beechwood was an alimentary wood that could come in contact with food. but i checked in school and the teachers aswell said that the only common wood specie that is safe to use in contact with food, was beech.

so are all those nice and fancy cutting boards that turn up every day, poisoned gifts? lots of them contain species like oak wich i believe are particularely toxic for humans.


7 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#1 posted 06-05-2010 05:15 PM

I’ve done some research on this subject and it seems unless you have an allergic reaction to certain woods there’s not a problem with almost all woods. It’s seems there was some question about hemlock and they thought Walnut actually had an antiseptic quality.

-- Custom furniture

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1509 posts in 3541 days

#2 posted 06-06-2010 03:51 PM

Yeah. Maple’s clearly not toxic, given that we drink a whole lot of sap as maple syrup. And many wines are aged in Oak barrels, from which they pick up a lot of the tannins. Walnut seems to only be an issue if you’re nut allergic, and even then I haven’t heard anyone complain about walnut oil as a finish yet.

So if I’m comparing relative risks of the basic native hardwoods to, say, the unknowns that are in a hotdog, I’ll take the momentary contact with a cutting board any day.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2618 posts in 2525 days

#3 posted 06-06-2010 03:57 PM

The tannin in oak is fairly tightly bound -just try cutting oak up to find that out. You’d actually have to ingest a lot of wood before you had to worry about it, and you aren’t cutting up chunks of wood when using the board. I’d think generally safe would be the case, except as mentioned, if a person has a specific allergy, then they may have to worry.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2491 days

#4 posted 06-06-2010 04:17 PM

Some people oppose using wood cutting boards because they claim it is harder to clean them such that they are always bacteria free. In theory, you just can’t clean them as well as you can clean other materials. I believe that problem can be partially addressed with the finish you choose. Salad oil is food safe and shellac is food safe. Both wear off in time.

I think I have made about a dozen cutting boards and given all, but one, away as gifts. I consistently hear, “It’s to pretty to actually use.” I believe that most, if not all, of my cutting boards have become display items.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View grizzman's profile


7780 posts in 2720 days

#5 posted 06-06-2010 04:19 PM

i don’t think there is really any problem with the cutting boards per say…your not really suppose to use a wood board for meat, unless your going to really clean it with bleach or something of that nature…now a days most people cut meat on a poly type of board and just cut vegetables or breads on them….no worries ….

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1509 posts in 3541 days

#6 posted 06-06-2010 10:01 PM

Yeah, I remember back in the late ‘80s early ‘90s, there was some rule that caused all the butchers to replace their wood with HDPE cutting boards, issues with bacteria transmission went up, and that rule got relaxed. The theory was that wood has some antimicrobial properties that plastic doesn’t.

In our home kitchen we scrub with salt to sanitize our cutting boards.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View ellen35's profile


2719 posts in 2849 days

#7 posted 06-06-2010 10:14 PM

This has been covered before in the forums. Check out this website
As you will see, some woods we use can be irritating but few are dangerous.
I have never had a problem or a complaint on a cutting board I have given away or sold.
Finish in MINERAL OIL, not salad oil… salad oil can become rancid.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

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