The past few years restaurants have resorted to serving food on some unconventional surfaces, from shovels to frying pans to lunchboxes to buckets. Where did this trend begin? It’s likely that it started with serving food on wooden boards.
“Wooden platters and serving boards create an on trend casual dining experience rich with somatic textural ambience elevating the dining experience” Food Critic.
Arguably, the whole point they exist is purely for their novelty and rustic style: harkening back to a simpler time when people never used fancy porcelain plates to eat their meals. But often, wooden boards are berated too harshly, particularly for reasons that are in fact untrue. For example: One argument many pro-plate diners use is that wooden boards are unhygienic. They argue that bacteria thrive inside small scuffs and cuts on the surface and that wood is harder to clean than harder surfaces.
But a number of studies have shown that assumption to be false. A famous study carried out at the University of California, Davis revealed that
“Bacteria was not recoverable from wooden surfaces in a short time after they were applied, unless very large numbers were used.”
“Although the bacteria that had disappeared from the wood surfaces were found alive inside the wood for some time after application, they evidently do not multiply, and they gradually die. They can be detected only by splitting or gouging the wood or by forcing water completely through from one surface to the other. In reality, there are plenty of pros as well as cons to using wooden boards as plates.”
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• Many people like wooden boards’ rustic style.
• They are perfectly hygienic.
• Wood is a good insulator, so it helps keep food warm.
• They are more durable than normal plates.
• Wood is biodegradable and renewable.
• They can’t be used to serve all types of food.
• Many wooden boards can’t be put in a dishwasher.
• They take up more storage space than traditional plates.
• They don’t have edges, so won’t catch bits of spilled food.
There’s no reason to avoid using wooden boards to serve certain types of food as long as they are well-maintained. Deep cuts and long-term wear and tear call for a replacement just like a chipped, cracked, or stained plate needs to be replaced.
And as long as they’re properly cleaned, wooden boards are completely safe to serve food on, just like any other dish. Staff should have a strong understanding of food hygiene and safety, which they can enhance by taking a suitable food hygiene course, testing their knowledge through a food hygiene quiz or learning from the good example set by others in the kitchen
Pre-rinse the board with hot water straight from the tap, taking care not to splash plates, utensils and other items in the process. You can then clean the board by hand using hot soapy water. Take care not to use brushes or scourers that are too abrasive as not to damage the wood. A soft sponge, cleaning cloth or scrubbing brush with plastic bristles should be used instead to remove any remaining food stains from the board. Pay particular attention to any light scars or scored marks.
Your wooden board will also need to be sanitised every time you clean it to ensure it is completely food safe.
Use a professional kitchen sanitiser which can be sprayed onto the surface of the board and wiped away after 30 seconds with a clean, dry cloth. There is no need to rinse the sanitiser away, this is a quick and simple way to make your board food safe.