Question: My company is considering using Guibourtia wood for a product that will come in contact with food. What regulatory considerations apply to wood products, particularly those in contact with food? Do regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or equivalent authorities in the European Commission maintain any lists of food-safe woods?
Answer: No, the FDA and its EU counterparts do not maintain lists of approved food-safe woods. Evaluating material options requires a review of the wood type’s toxicity, though some woods are well-known for food-safe use, such as maple, cherry and hickory.
Other regulatory considerations when evaluating wood use include:
- Source tree toxicity and/or history of negative allergic or physical reactions.
- Source tree species status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
- Source tree species status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Furthermore, when working with wood, note that worker exposure to wood dust has been associated with nasal cancer in carpenters, which led to wood dust’s inclusion as a carcinogen under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65).
Guibourtia has low toxicity, but exposure may cause skin irritation and/or lesions. Please consider adding a clear coat to wood parts to help prevent consumer exposure. Guibourtia is not evaluated on the IUCN Red List, but three Guibourtia species (commonly known as Bubinga) are listed on CITES Appendix II. As a result, international trade in Bubinga wood and finished goods has been banned under CITES since January 2017.
Article current as of 2020-03-06