Choosing a Board
- Stores offer cutting boards made of either wood or plastic -- or other nonporous materials like glass or stone. While widely publicized research showed that wood harbors more bacteria than other surfaces, some university researchers found that the natural enzymes in wood would kill those bacteria, which confused consumers. University of Minnesota Extension food safety experts advise using a cutting board made of hard wood approved for use with food if you choose not to buy a plastic or glass board.
Problems With Wood
- Wood cutting boards can retain germs that can cause illness if not chosen and used properly. Plastic and other nonporous materials come clean more easily, which means they eliminate bacteria better. Dishwashers kill bacteria easily on plastic boards, but many wooden boards become warped or damaged when placed in a dishwasher, and soft wood boards harbor more bacteria.
Keeping It Clean
- Use separate cutting boards for meats and other foods, like bread.Bread and knife on cutting board image by Vic from Fotolia.com
Avoid transmitting food-borne illnesses from cutting boards by keeping them clean and in good condition. U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety experts recommend cleaning with hot, soapy water and a thorough rinse immediatelyb after use or placing dishwasher-safe boards in the dishwasher, always after removing any bits of food. Occasionally sanitize your boards with a tablespoon of bleach mixed in a gallon of water, and allow them to dry completely before storage.
- Use different boards for raw meats and other foods to avoid cross-contamination, designating a certain board only for raw meat or seafood. Never cut raw vegetables, bread or other foods that you will not be cooking on the same unwashed board that held raw meats.
Time to Replace
- If a wooden board develops small knife cuts, you can try sanding them out to restore a smooth surface, but if you find deep grooves or scratches that catch food residue, toss the board out and buy a new one. Throw away even plastic boards that become worn.