It is incomprehensible in a world awash with information and awash in unwanted plastic from the Artic to Antartica, that our E.H.Os are still advocating plastic chopping boards, plastic gloves, plastic anything in fact. What is going on? It has been proven through scientific studies that hard wood  timber (used for millennia) is a safer option to plastic. Butchers still use timber blocks for one of the most high risk foods imaginable – raw meat. Even though it is clearly stated on the Food Safety Authority Website that is safe to use timber boards for food preparation, we, in the industry know that individual EHOs on the ground still push for plastic.

 Plastic boards were only introduced to the industry relatively recently when we all thought that plastic was the bees knees and cats pyjamas. We now know however that nothing could be further from the truth. Plastic of course has multiple important uses and that cannot be denied but the ubiquitous nature of plastic is gone beyond a joke.

The clue is in the name surely, Environmental Health Officers. The environment is mentioned in the name thus bringing with it a responsibility to keep our greater environment in mind. This author’s view of inconsistencies in the application of Food Safety laws is already in the public domain but this is a departmental issue. The Food Safety Authority now needs to implement its own advice throughout the industry and take their ‘environmental’ duties seriously.

The use of zillions of plastic gloves is a complete travesty. Watching a server make sandwiches recently was a deeply upsetting experience. A new pair of gloves was used for every single sandwich. Consider that for a moment. Every single sandwich. Multiply that by several hundred sandwiches a day by days of the week, by weeks in a year by the number of food service outlets. Truly terrifying. We can no longer say we don’t know. Until Sir David Attenborough woke the planet up to the truth of plastic pollution on his extraordinary series Blue Planet, we had been blithely imagining that all our waste was being neatly recycled into future wonders of the world.

It is easy to understand how the next generation have decided that it is time to take the problem to the politicians and speak truth to power. Getting rid of plastic boards will not solve it, but it will be a message to our industry that we can make a difference. The time for cosmetic gestures is over. Perhaps it is time to join the revolution to save our exquisite planet for the future.