Camphor Laurel Natural Antibacterial Qualities
Many claims are made about the antibacterial properties of cutting boards made from different
materials. For example, some plastic cutting boards are impregnated with antibacterial additives.
The presence of anti-microbial chemicals in camphor laurel cutting boards raises the question of safety with regard to those chemicals contaminating food. The concentration & types of compounds in camphor wood can vary from tree to tree & between different parts of a tree.
The following compounds are found in Camphor Laurel samples:
Camphor – Safrole – Cineole – Cinnamaldehyde – Fatty acids – Mannitol – Limonene – Tannins – Terpineol –
Eugenol – Pinene – Linalool, and Geraniol (3, 4)
Any of these substances can be toxic in purified form, but there is no evidence to suggest that food contact with Camphor laurel wood (particularly after curing) would produce any adverse effects.
This said, there is no guarantee, as there cannot be any substance that a particular individual will not be allergic to any of the chemicals in timber, but most of them commonly occur in foods & confectionery.
Lavender, for instance, contains camphor, limonene, eugenol, pinene & linalool.
Eucalyptus oil is predominantly cineole.
The most toxic of the above is safrole. However, it is a reasonably common constituent of plants.
It is known to occur in about 50 other species including angelica, sassafras, nutmeg, star anise, cinnamon, cacao, and black pepper.
Other food plants containing these compounds include: Bay leaves (cineole & eugenol), cloves (eugenol), cinnamon (eugenol, cinnamaldehyde), coriander (linalool, pinene, & camphor), peppermint (pinene & limonene), sage (cineole, pinene & camphor), rosemary (cineole & pinene) [5,6,7,]. These Herbs & spices have long been used as preservatives.
Camphor Laurel Timber, as tested here, was the most effective food preparation surface with regard to reducing microbial growth. This appears to be a result of the nature of wood in general, & the presence in this particular wood of anti-microbial substances, which are also known to occur naturally in edible products.
Alan Waterson B.Sc. (Hons) Dip Ed. Test results 6th April 2002.
Below is an outline of the research findings: