FDA approved wood species for food contact

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Forum topic by PRGDesigns posted 09-04-2012 08:36 PM 4171 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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220 posts in 1479 days

09-04-2012 08:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource bubinga oak purpleheart padauk zebrawood walnut pine maple cherry lathe turning

I just received my latest e-mail blast from Cook Woods. In the e-mail there was a curious statement about the wood species being offered: “Approved by the FDA for food containers, cottonwood works well for bowls or other turned articles.” I have no reason not to believe this statement, but it did make me curious what other wood species might be FDA approved for food contact? I called Cook Woods to find out how I could verify this statement and was met with “on the internet”. I searched the internet as suggested, visiting the morass of government alphabet soup websites w/o success. Either my search skills are inadequate or I am not intelligent enough to know something when I see it. I have seen previous discussions on this subject in the LJ Forum but it appeared to be mostly anecdotal information on the type of wood species for food contact. My challenge to my fellow LJ’s is as follows:

Is there a list of wood species that are FDA/USDA/(XYZ Government agency) approved for food contact?

If so, where might one obtain such a list?

And yes, I realize the finish is also important for the food contact, but I was more interested in the wood species and direct food contact. Thanks in advance for any consideration you can give this matter.

-- They call me Mr. Silly

4 replies so far

View 1stmistake's profile


13 posts in 1337 days

#1 posted 09-04-2012 09:01 PM

I found this: FDA Food Code 2009: Chapter 4 – Equipment, Utensils, and Linens

It’s very vague on any particular species… see point B:

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, and chopsticks; and
(2) Wooden paddles used in confectionery operations for pressure scraping kettles when manually preparing confections at a temperature of 110°C (230°F) or above.
(C) Whole, uncut, raw fruits and vegetables, and nuts in the shell may be kept in the wood shipping containers in which they were received, until the fruits, vegetables, or nuts are used.
(D) If the nature of the food requires removal of rinds, peels, husks, or shells before consumption, the whole, uncut, raw food may be kept in:
(1) Untreated wood containers; or
(2) Treated wood containers if the containers are treated with a preservative that meets the requirements specified in 21 CFR 178.3800 Preservatives for wood.

And more on that last point:

Sec. 178.3800 Preservatives for wood.
Preservatives may be safely used on wooden articles that are used or intended for use in packaging, transporting, or holding raw agricultural products subject to the provisions of this section:

(a) The preservatives are prepared from substances identified in paragraph (b) of this section and applied in amounts not to exceed those necessary to accomplish the technical effect of protecting the wood from decay, mildew, and water absorption.

(b) The substances permitted are as follows:

Mineral spirits
Paraffin wax
Petroleum hydrocarbon resin, produced by the homo- and copolymerization of dienes and olefins of the aliphatic, alicyclic, and monobenzenoid arylalkene type from distillates of cracked petroleum stocks
Pentachlorophenol and its sodium salt (Not to exceed 50 p.p.m. in the treated wood, calculated as pentachlorophenol.)
Rosins and rosin derivatives
Zinc salt of sulfonated petroleum

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 1341 days

#2 posted 09-04-2012 09:26 PM

Thank you for this post.
However, I am afraid I am of no help.
I am waiting instead of some experts dropping by to give us some hints.

View PRGDesigns's profile


220 posts in 1479 days

#3 posted 09-04-2012 09:29 PM

Excellent. Based upon this particular section of government regulations, it appears that any hardwood which is “equivalent” to maple is acceptable for the uses listed, with “equivalent” being the operative word. I wonder which “equivalent” standard they are referring to. i.e. hardness, density, etc.? I am still curious why Cook Woods would use this phrase to describe this wood species. almost like there is a list of wood species rather than the generic description you found.

Just curious – what search terms did you use?

Thanks again!

-- They call me Mr. Silly

View AandCstyle's profile


2190 posts in 1423 days

#4 posted 09-05-2012 12:10 AM

” it appears that any hardwood which is “equivalent” to maple is acceptable for the uses listed, with “equivalent” being the operative word.”

It is the “close-grained” they are referencing. This means that they approve any similar close-grained wood. Scroll down on this page until you see the pix of end grain and click on the image. However, I have not been able to find a list of similar woods, perhaps someone can point one out.

-- Art

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