Wooden boards have increasingly been used in a variety of catering units for both serving and displaying ready-to-eat products. However, they are regularly identified by Environmental Health professionals as a real food safety issue due to many being very worn, hard to clean and therefore increasing the risk of contamination.
In October 2016 a restaurant in Birmingham was fined £50,000 by magistrates for serving food products on unhygienic wooden boards. Birmingham City Council visited ‘Ibrahims Grill & Steak House’ as there had been a food poisoning incident which had affected a party of 14 people. During this visit the restaurant was served an Improvement Notice for poor hygiene practices, which included serving food products on wooden boards which were ‘..unable to be cleaned’.
The restaurant was revisited 2 months later and although improvements had been made, the restaurant was later fined £50,000 as the restaurant were still using very worn, unhygienic boards to serve food.
It is very important to ensure that all cooking utensils and serving dishes are kept to high standards. Once boards become worn or damaged they are very hard to clean, these need to be regularly replaced or different more suitable materials used which can be easily cleaned.
Environmental Health Professionals often during an inspection/audit look to ensure all food contact equipment is kept in a good condition. This includes;
- Wooden boards and chopping boards - Ensure they are kept in good condition. Ensure they are NOT heavily worn, cracked, burnt or scored. Visual checks should be made and they should be regularly replaced.
- Microwavable dishes - These can become burnt out, discoloured and worn. Checks should be made and replaced often.
- Serving dishes - These can crack and chip this makes them very hard to clean and increases the risk of contamination. Ensure regular visual checks are made on dishes.
- Segregation between raw and ready-to-eat equipment. Ensure raw boards and utensils are kept away from ready-to-eat equipment to avoid any cross contamination.