Fast Facts About Cutting Boards and Food Safety in Your Kitchen
30 July 04

Fast Facts About Cutting Boards and Food Safety in Your Kitchen


Anything that comes in contact with food can be a source of pollution and foodborne illness - including chopping boards.

For example, if you cut a raw chicken and then use the same cutting board to cut a tomato for your salad, you have the risk of cross-contamination - the bacteria in the chicken will be transferred to the tomato. Of course, this will be very bad.


Vegetarians have not escaped the predicament. Fruits and vegetables can also carry pathogens (and transfer them to cutting boards).

To reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses in the kitchen, here are some things you should know about chopping boards.

Plastic and wood

Most, if not all, chopping boards have been made of wood for a long time. But at some point people started using plastic chopping boards. The idea is that they are easier to clean (and sterilize) and therefore safer.

But in the late 1980s, a researcher at the University of California, Davis, named Dilcrever, the de facto godfather of cutting board food safety, decided to investigate whether plastic cutting boards are really safer. A: No.

Cliver found the plastic cutting board easier to sterilize. But cutting them also leaves behind a lot of bacteria that can hide the grooves. Wood sterilisation is more difficult, but it is usually (usually) harder - there are not too many deep scratches on the surface.

In addition, the researchers found that the type of wood you make on your chopping board is also different.

"Hardwood, like maple, is very detailed. The capillary action of these grains can pull liquids down and catch bacteria - these bacteria are killed after they are washed and dried," said Ben Chapman, a North Carolina food safety researcher. "Soft trees like cypress are less likely to dull blades, but they also pose greater food safety risks," Chapman explained. "That's because they have bigger grains, which makes it easier to split the wood and form a groove where bacteria can breed."

Which type of cutting board should you use? Chapman recommends using plastic cutting boards for meat, wood cutting boards for fruits, vegetables or any ready-to-eat foods such as bread or cheese.

Why use plastic chopping board meat? Because how do you wash them.

Clean your cutting board

Plastics and wood have different characteristics, so you must deal with them in different ways.

The plastic chopping block can be placed in the dishwasher where it can be sterilized by high temperature cleaning. But the wooden cutting board will soon be destroyed by the dishwasher, not everyone has a dishwasher. If you are washing the cutting board by hand, you should:

Rinse the chips on the cutting board (be careful not to splash contaminated water throughout the area);

Scrub the cutting board with soap and water (to remove scratches or any objects in the grooves on the board surface); and

Sterilize the cutting board (for wood cutting boards, you should use a disinfectant that is different from the plastic cutting board).

For plastic chopping boards, you should use chlorine-based disinfectants such as bleach and water (one tablespoon per gallon of bleach - one or two weeks of shelf life). However, for wood cutting boards, you should use quaternary ammonium disinfectants, such as a solution of Mr. Clean and water (please follow the dilution instructions on the label).

"This is because chlorine is very easy to combine with organic materials, just like wood on a cutting board, which neutralizes its antibacterial properties," Chapman said. "Quaternary ammonium salts are more effective at killing bacteria on wood or other organic surfaces."

It is worth noting that after you use it to pull out the chicken juice on the cutting board, you should also clean the kitchen sponges/rags/brushes, otherwise you risk the risk of contaminating the next item (this is exactly the same with you Do you want to do the opposite).

The final step in cleaning the cutting board is important - dry it.

"Make sure you put the chopping block in a place where air circulates so that it can dry completely," Chapman said. Bacteria need moisture to grow, and you don't want to give them a welcome environment.

"Historically, butchers put salt on their butcher blocks to prevent them from smelling bad," Chapman said. "This is because salt sucks water out of the wood and prevents bacterial contamination, which is the cause of this odor - although the butcher did not know it at the time."

When to change the cutting board

In some cases, scrubbing and disinfection may not be enough. When your cutting board has accumulated a lot of deep grooves due to repeated use, you may need to replace it.

Chapman said: "The more grooves it has, the bigger they are, the more areas that can be used to trap moisture and provide a place for bacteria to grow."