I had started a thread earlier about cooking fish on cedar planks. I
was interested mostly in ideas for joining narrow boards to be used in
cooking and got some good ideas, along with some good humor, as well as
the usual slew of irrational responses.
A few sub-threads were interested in questioning my use of aromatic
cedar rather than the more common Western (non-aromatic) cedar. Some
posters thought it might be toxic, a perfectly valid concern.
Everything I'd ever read pointed to the Western as more toxic than the
Eastern (but those studies were all about inhalation and allergies),
yet the Western has become rather popular as planking material, so it
probably isn't that bad except for those with unusual allergies.
Regardless, I sent a query to various government agencies and recently
got one response, so thought to share it with the Wreck. The upshot is
that it *seems*
safe although pregnant women might want to avoid
because no specific testing has been done regarding its use
in plank cooking.
Anyway, if you're interested, here's one response:
From: Hoskin, George P
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 9:39 AM
Subject: FW: Cedar-planked salmon
Mr.. Seavey, Also a recent article in the food section of the
Washington Post was critical of the idea as being of little use in
flavoring- although your experience suggests otherwise. See below for
some additional information.
From: Buchanan, Robert L
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2005 4:43 PM
To: Hoskin, George P
Subject: FW: Cedar-planked salmon
I would just send this back as a response to the original inquiry.
Robert (Bob) Buchanan
CFSAN Senior Science Advisor &
Director of the CFSAN Office of Science
DHHS, FDA, CFSAN
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD, USA 20740
From: Pauli, George H
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2005 3:04 PM
To: Hoskin, George P; Buchanan, Robert L; Kraemer, Donald W
Cc: Valerio, Luis Jr.
Subject: RE: Cedar-planked salmon
Not surprisingly, most information will be on the berry, not the wood.
Our toxicologist found the following:
In doing some quick searches, I found few studies directly related to
J. virginiana (Eastern red cedar). One interesting study (Toxicol
1975:221-35) although dated reported that the use of J. virginiana
cedar shavings as bedding for mice significantly increased the
incidence of spontaneous liver and mammary gland tumors. Since that
time period, however, I could not find further reports about the
carcinogenicity of J. virginiana. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR)
Expert panel concluded insufficient data to support safety for use in
cosmetics (Int J Toxicol, 2001, 20:41-56), but indicated J. virginiana
was not a skin irritant or contact sensitizer. However, no gentox,
dermal repro tox, or photosensitization data were available and CIR
commented J. communis extract did affect fertility and was
abortifacient in studies using albino rats, hence the insufficient data
conclusion by the panel. Below are other recommendations from
authorities in the field of botanicals which support an avoidance of
its use during pregnancy which I find to be the common denominator
European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy ESCOP 1997.
Juniperus virginiana Not recommended during pregnancy and lactation.
American Herbal Products Assoc Botanical Safety Handbook
Juniperus virginiana listed Class 2b Not to be used during pregnancy
Juniperus virginiana listed Class 3 Herbs for which significant data
exist to recommend the following labeling: "To be used only under the
supervision of an expert qualified in the appropriate use of this
German Commission E
Approves the use of juniper(Juniperus communis) dried fruit
preparations or oil to relieve dyspepsia.
Oil of Juniperus communis has been found to stimulate uterine
contractions, use is not advised during pregnancy (and Tyler, 1993).
More information is available on Juniperus communis. It could be a
reasonable assumption that its chemical composition (terpenoids,
aromatics, aliphatic alcohols and aldehydes) is similar to Juniperus
virginiana and there are some studies reporting adverse renal effects
in rabbits, however, the concentrations required to induce this
toxicity is extraordinarily high (30 g) using the pure essential oil,
whereas the recommended daily dose equates to 15 berries (2.5 g) and
contains about 1% essential oil or 25 mg. So the issue here is the
dose, and other studies in rodents found negative results for renal
toxicity at doses of 1 g/kg bw.
Only the first is remotely related to wood and it is skin contact and
inhalation, not extraction and ingestion. Moreover, aroma would be
breathed 24 hours/day/life.
we generally have not tried to regulate the type of wood in contact
with food and would not plan to do so unless we had a reason to expect
hazard; i.e., wood, in general, is presumed GRAS for food contact with
no approval or disapproval from FDA.