Firm warns of wood-fired oven dangers

Wood-fired oven

Caterers operating wood-fired ovens are being warned to be vigilant over contamination and poisoning issues that can arise when using this type of equipment.

With the summer season heralding an increase in music festivals, county shows and outdoor events, caterers running mobile foodservice offerings need to stay in line with HACCP regulations.

And that means taking care over the wood that is used in wood-fired ovens, according to ‘O Sole Mio, a company that provides a fully ecological wood product specifically designed for bread-baking by wood.

The company claims that a lack of care over the wood source used could be a food poisoning outbreak waiting to happen.

“Whilst wood-fired oven operators often appreciate health risks surrounding cross contamination and allergies, they could be creating other risks by not considering the risk of using traditional wood logs commonly sold for use with wood-burning stoves,” it said.

“This can often mean using wood that, during storage, could have attracted cockroaches and other small insects. It may well have started to develop mould on its surface and could also have been tainted by pesticides and fertilisers. In this way, food cooked in the wood-fired oven could become contaminated by the fuel source.”

‘O Sole Mio warns that a mobile caterer could also be loading their pizza oven with extra mouldy logs one minute, to feed the fire, and then handling raw dough and food toppings the next, without even considering the risks.

Some mobile wood-fired ovens use compressed sawdust briquettes which are often made from waste wood, containing chemicals and heavy metals used in the pressure treatment of construction timber, it claims. Without any certification for use with food, inadvertent cross contamination can occur.

Mark Thomas of Nottinghamshire Eco Fuels, the exclusive UK agent for ‘O Sole Mio, says that many Environmental Health guidelines fail to refer to cooking with wood, even though this falls under the remit of HACCP Reg (EC) No. 852/2004.

It is, therefore, down to the caterer to do their research and ensure they stay compliant with HACCP regulations, he points out.

“Environmental health guidelines do not always include wood-fired ovens, even though their presence at events is growing all the time.  We are urging caterers and chefs to steer clear of possible food contamination and food poisoning issues, by using a trusted source of wood that has been tested to the hilt.”

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