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 and types of compounds in Camphor wood can vary from tree to tree and between different parts of a tree. In feneral terms the following compounds are present: 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. There is no guarantee, as there cannot be with 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 and confectionery. Lavender, for instance, contains camphor, limonene, eugenol, pinene and 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 and eugenol), cloves (eugenol), cinnamon (eugenol, cinnamaldehyde), coriander (linalool, pinene and camphor), peppermint (pinene and limonene), sage (cineole, pinene and camphor), rosemary (cineole and pinene) [5,6,7,]. These Herbs and spices have long been used as preservatives.
Conclusion – 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, and the presence in this particular wood of anti-microbial substances, which are also known to occur naturally in edible products.