Shopping for the right cutting board can be a challenge. There is still so much controversy surrounding the safety of wood over plastic. You will find convincing studies for both arguments. So how do you choose? Which study do you believe?
Notice I didn’t mention glass cutting boards. I am not a fan. Knives can slip easier on the tempered glass, not to mention that annoying sound when the knife meets the glass surface. You don’t have to worry about knife grooves, clean up is easy with a toss into the dishwasher and they can be used as a hot pad. However, a huge disadvantage is that they have a tendency to dull and damage your knives quicker.
Plastic cutting boards are very popular, less expensive, and easy to cut on. They are dishwasher safe and therefore easy to keep clean and sanitized. Plastic cutting boards can pull double duty as a hot pad. The disadvantages are that with plastic, over time, your knife makes tiny grooves that are perfect for bacteria to hide in. Plastic also stains easily.
Then we have the popular wood cutting boards. They are easy to use, easy on our knives, and come in many shapes and sizes. They make a beautiful addition to our kitchens with many different types of wood. The disadvantages are that they need to be cleaned by hand, even if the manufacturer tells you otherwise because they do not stand up well after several cycles in your dishwasher.
Here is where the controversies come into play. Many believe that wood has natural antibacterial properties. And that once the wood has been marred by a knife, it is self-correcting or “heals” itself. These studies believe that any bacteria is absorbed deep into the wood and killed. However, just as many studies believe that the bacteria deep inside the wood, is given a chance to multiply if not properly cleaned.
You now have the option to purchase cutting boards that are treated with a chemical known as Triclosan, which acts as an antibacterial. Before making that purchase, please research the potential health effects involved. See our article “Antibacterial Soaps—The Controversy”.
So with all the questions surrounding the safety of wood and plastic maybe we should be more concerned about how we keep our cutting boards clean and not which cutting board we choose. These are recommendations by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service for proper care of our cutting boards. Proper cutting board “care-and-feeding” is a key component of preventing cross-contamination. Here’s how:
- Always use a clean cutting board for food preparation.
- Try to use one cutting board for fresh produce — and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
- Sanitize cutting boards with a freshly made solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.
- Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, replace them.
We would love to hear from you with your opinions on the matter.