Re: Salmonella and wood cutting boards
From: Stuart Staniford-Chen (stuartslandau.ucdavis.edu)
Date: Mon, 23 May 94 10:20 CDT
The wood versus plastic issue was mentioned in the May 1993 of The Berkeley
Wellness Letter.  They reference "a yet-unpublished study," by "two
microbiologists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison."  Not much to
start a literature search on, but the best I could do.  The issue was also
(gleefully) discussed on rec.woodworking at the time, but no-one seems to
have mentioned the original reference.

Anyway, according to the BWL, "On some [wooden] boards nearly 100% of the
bacteria were dead, or at least gone, within three minutes. ... When
contaminated boards were stored overnight under conditions conducive to 
bacterial growth, the wooden ones were bacteria-free the next morning, while
the population soared on the plastic ones."

It goes on to mention that the researchers found it hard to wash bacteria off
plastic (especially if scratched).  Old woods performed even better than new
woods.  The researchers did not (apparently) establish a mechanism for what
was causing the bacteria to disappear on the wood.

I guess the conclusion is that all these years when people were claiming
plastic was a wonderful sterile material, that was a theoretical expectation
and not an experimental finding - but people were not careful enough to
distinguish.  (Assuming these guys didn't just mess up their experiment of
course).

Stuart
N-Street Cohousing

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