A restaurant in Birmingham has been fined almost NZD$100,000 for serving food on wooden boards instead of plates.

“An Acocks Green restaurant that kept using wooden plates to serve food on has been fined £50k by Bham Magistrates court after a case brought by the city council,” the Birmingham City Council wrote on Twitter, claiming the investigation occurred after a spate of food poisoning incidents. “The cleaning of the premises was poor and sanitising chemicals were not being used in accordance with manufacturer instructions. Wooden plates which were incapable of being cleaned were being used to serve the food.”

Wooden boards are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand, and Lone Star Group CEO Zitzenbacher​ has made moves to calm the storm, insisting that boards can be perfectly sanitary if they are regularly washed and dried. Lone Star restaurants use wooden boards to serve food, albeit only bread loaves and burgers.

MPI backed up the claims, saying that all restaurants have to take responsibility for their serving platters regardless of material and that it is possible to properly clean a wooden board. “Where a restaurant can show they do this, there is no problem with using them to serve food. However, where boards are cracked or damaged, cleaning them becomes much harder. If a Food Act Verifier who visits a restaurant is not satisfied that adequate hygiene can be maintained, they will instruct a restaurant to fix this. The restaurant could choose a range of actions, for instance replacing the boards or improving their cleaning practices.”