In recent years, many restaurants have introduced more innovative methods of serving food and the trend for presenting dishes on wooden boards has become increasingly popular. Nevertheless, high standards of food safety must be maintained and, if not, be warned, as severe fines could be issued.

A restaurant in Birmingham has just been fined £50,000 for failing to comply with food safety standards. One of the summonses was for the use of wooden boards to serve food, which could not be cleaned sufficiently and therefore created a risk of food poisoning, ultimately jeopardising the health of customers dining at the premises.

The restaurant had seriously breached food standards and therefore faced harsh consequences following an environmental health inspection from Birmingham City Council.

This case will no doubt increase concerns with consumers nationwide, whilst also raising awareness amongst other independent restaurants and chains which serve food on wooden boards.

Whilst it may be an attractive way to present food, we must remember that wooden boards can be unhygienic, especially if they are damaged or not cleaned correctly.

Peter Christopher-Ohrt, Managing Director Technical Services, Food Alert Ltd, comments: “The use of wooden chopping boards and equipment is not illegal; however, the boards must be capable of being cleaned and, of course, remain sanitary and hygienic at all times.”

“Wooden equipment should be smooth, without any grooves. Indentations and uneven surfaces allow food, dirt and bacteria to accumulate, therefore posing a significant risk of food poisoning to the consumer.”

“Equipment must food grade and ideally be made from a single piece of hard wood. A method for identifying equipment for ‘Ready To Eat’ (RTE) and non RTE foods should be present. Damaged and split wooden equipment must be repaired or replaced immediately.”

Effective cleaning is also a huge priority, as Peter explains: “Cleanliness and disinfection are essential; and all wooden equipment must be cleaned after each use – but be aware that washing in the dishwasher can cause it to split. Equipment should be washed with a detergent and then disinfected.”

“Regular oiling of the equipment will maintain its visual appearance. To improve hygiene and safety, food grade paper sheets can be put between the equipment and food.”

The trend for serving food in unusual and novel ways looks set to continue, as many restaurants offers more rustic and authentic dining experiences. However, as Peter has highlighted, hygiene and food safety are crucial, particularly for the safety of consumers and to avoid being slapped with huge fines, both of which could seriously affect your business and damage your restaurant’s reputation.

For further information on the use of wooden boards either, if you are a customer contact our Advice Line or if not call us on 020 7244 1900 or email




Food Safety, Health & Safety


Food Alert