Food Safety: is Tung Oil food Safe?

Tung oil, derived from the seeds of the Chinese Tung tree, has gained popularity as a finish for wooden surfaces due to its water-resistant properties and natural composition. This oil has been utilized for centuries in China for various purposes, from waterproofing boats to preserving wooden furniture.

The Controversy

In recent times, there has been a debate regarding the safety of using tung oil as a food-safe finish for kitchen items. While tung oil is generally regarded as safe for food contact after it has cured, concerns arise due to the potential for allergic reactions in some individuals.

Tung Oil and Food Safety

When tung oil is fully cured, it forms a hard, non-toxic finish that is considered safe for food contact. Once the oil has polymerized, it creates a protective barrier on the wood surface. However, it is crucial to allow sufficient curing time to ensure that the finish is completely safe for use with food items.

is Tung Oil food Safe?

The answer to this question is a resounding “Yes,” Tung oil is indeed food safe.

And here more data From the US FDA website: US FDA website click here.


“Resinous and polymeric coatings may be safely used as the food-contact surface of articles intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, processing, preparing, treating, packaging, transporting, or holding food, in accordance with the following prescribed conditions:

(1) Coatings cured by oxidation.
(2) Coatings cured by polymerization, condensation, and/or cross-linking without oxidation.
(3) Coatings prepared from prepolymerized substances.

Best Practices for Using Tung Oil

When using tung oil on kitchen items such as cutting boards or wooden utensils, it is essential to follow best practices to ensure food safety. This includes applying multiple thin coats of tung oil, allowing ample curing time between coats, and ensuring proper ventilation during the application process.

Alternatives to Tung Oil

For individuals who prefer to err on the side of caution, there are alternative finishes available for wooden kitchen items. Mineral oil and beeswax are popular choices for maintaining the natural beauty of wood while ensuring food safety.


In conclusion, while tung oil can be a suitable choice for finishing wooden kitchen items, it is essential to understand the proper application and curing process to ensure food safety. Additionally, individuals with known allergies should exercise caution when using tung oil in food-related applications. Ultimately, the decision to use tung oil should be made with careful consideration of individual circumstances and preferences.

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