RE: [Histonet] Dissection boards

From:Tony Henwood


Before you make your decision you may like to consider the following (from
our local jounal "Histograph")


Tony Henwood JP, MSc, BAppSc, GradDipSysAnalys, CT(ASC)
Laboratory Manager & Senior Scientist
The Children's Hospital at Westmead,
Locked Bag 4001, Westmead, 2145, AUSTRALIA.
Tel: 612 9845 3306
Fax: 612 9845 3318

The Wood Chopping Board

Many Histopathology Laboratories continue to use wooden cut-up boards. One
advantage over plastic, glass or steel boards seems to be that there is less
damage to knives and scalpels. This results in prolonged blade life. One
major concern is the perceived difficulty in adequately cleaning and
disinfecting wooden boards.

Several years ago Dr. Dean Cliver and his associates at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, USA, presented their work on the safety of plastic and
wooden cutting boards. Their research was first intended to develop means of
disinfecting wooden cutting surfaces, so that they would be almost as safe
as plastics. Their safety concern was that bacteria such as Escherichia coli
O157:H7 (commonly known as E-coli) and Salmonella, which might contaminate a
work surface when raw meat was being prepared, ought not remain on the
surface to contaminate other foods that might be eaten without further
cooking. They soon found that disease bacteria such as these were not
recoverable from wooden surfaces in a short time after they were applied,
unless very large numbers were used. New plastic surfaces allowed the
bacteria to persist, but were easily cleaned and disinfected. However,
wooden boards that had been used and had many knife cuts acted almost the
same as new wood, whereas plastic surfaces that were knife-scarred were
impossible to clean and disinfect manually, especially when food residues
such as chicken fat were present.

Although the bacteria that had disappeared from the wood surfaces were found
alive inside the wood for some time after application, they evidently did
not multiply, and they gradually died. They could be detected only by
splitting or gouging the wood or by forcing water completely through from
one surface to the other. If a sharp knife is used to cut into the work
surfaces after used plastic or wood had been contaminated with bacteria and
cleaned manually, more bacteria were recovered from a used plastic surface
than from a used wood surface.  "Manual cleaning", in their experiments, had
been done with a sponge, hot tap water, and liquid dishwashing detergent.
Mechanical cleaning with a dishwashing machine could be done successfully
with plastic surfaces (even if knife-scarred) and wooden boards especially
made for this. Wooden boards, but not plastics, that were small enough to
fit into a microwave oven could be disinfected rapidly, but care had to be
used to prevent overheating. Work surfaces that had been cleaned could be
disinfected with bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solutions. This disinfecting
was reliable only if cleaning had been done successfully.  

A case-control study of sporadic salmonellosis had been done in California
and included cutting boards among many risk factors assessed (Kass et al
1992.). It revealed that those using wooden cutting boards in their home
kitchens were less than half as likely on average to contract salmonellosis
(odds ratio 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.22-0.81). Those using synthetic
(plastic or glass) cutting boards were about twice as likely on average to
contract salmonellosis (O.R. 1.99, C.I. 1.03-3.85) and the effect of
cleaning the board regularly after preparing meat on it was not
statistically significant (O.R. 1.20, C.I. 0.54-2.68).

Dr. Dean Cliver and his co-workers have concluded that wooden cutting boards
are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be. As yet
the natural antibiotic has not been discovered. What are your thoughts?

Kass, P.H., et al., (1992) "Disease determinants of sporadic salmonellosis
in four northern California counties: a case control study of older children
and adults" Ann. Epidemiol. 2:683-696.

Ak, N. O., Cliver, D. O. Kaspar C. W., (1994) Cutting boards of plastic and
wood contaminated experimentally with bacteria. J. Food Protect. 57:16- 22. 
Ak, N. O., Cliver D. O, Kaspar C. W., (1994) Decontamination of plastic and
wooden cutting boards for kitchen use. J. Food Protect. 57:23-30,36.  

Galluzzo, L., Cliver D. O., (1996) Cutting boards and bacteria--oak vs.
Salmonella. Dairy, Food Environ. Sanit. 16:290-293.  

Park, P. K., Cliver D. O., (1996) Disinfection of household cutting boards
with a microwave oven. J. Food. Protect. 59:1049-1054.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Katia Cristina Catunda [] 
Sent: Sunday, 17 July 2005 11:20 AM
Subject: [Histonet] Dissection boards

In our lab we still use wood-dissecting boards but we really want to change
it!! (wood can be very very very dirty after some years even if we submit
the boards to an intensive descontaminating process). Would like some tips
about what kind of material we should use it and what is the best option,
buy it from distributors like Mopec or to pay for someone to make them? Some
simple questions that makes a lot of difference for us...


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