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Appendix H: Use of wood in dairy facilities


Wood is an absorbent surface that is difficult to clean to keep free of contaminating bacteria. In dairy facilities, wood is not a suitable material for food contact surfaces, supplementary utensils or physical structures where product is exposed or placed at risk of contamination, with a few exceptions:


For the purpose of this document, the following definition applies.

Bacterial surface ripened cheese: a cheese whose rind is formed by bacterial action (for example, Saint Paulin, Bel Pase and Tilsit).

Wood shelving used for cheese curing

For reasons of tradition and suitability, wood is used to aid the surface ripening of cheeses.  The bacteria (usually Brevibacterium linens) on the shelf surface break down part of the cheese protein and form the rind.  The cheeses are washed and turned regularly during ripening.  The cheese shelves are seeded with the bacteria which become ingrained in the wood.  Under controlled conditions, the harmless bacteria significantly outnumber the undesirable microorganisms and therefore the risk of contamination is minimized.


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