Food safety experts always recommend using two cutting boards, one strictly for meat and meat products and the other for fruits and vegetables to avoid cross contamination. Great advice, now what type of cutting board will reduce microbial counts after cleaning; plastic, wood, or marble?
Plastic comes a definite last and that’s because bacteria are able to breed in the cuts left by knives.
Marble came in second because bacteria spread everywhere. Marble also loses points because it’s tough on knives.
In the final wash-up, it was wood that blew the competition out of the water. This is no surprise to Professor Cliver. In many similar experiments, wood’s always been a winner.
Leila: "Why is wood so much better?"
Professor Cliver: "It’s a very porous material and the fluid is drawn into the wood by capillary action and if there are bacteria in the fluid they go in and they never come back alive."
Leila: "So the wooden boards kill the bacteria?"
Professor: "Well, they die off slowly. It may take a few hours, but all the same, they aren’t in a position to cause any trouble."
Leila: "So wood’s the way to go?"
Professor: "In my opinion."
But the professor adds a rider — be sure to choose a tight-grained hardwood board. If the wood’s too soft, those pesky bacteria can multiply in deep knife cuts.
I had the opportunity to swab a number of cutting boards when shooting the series Kitchen Crimes, both plastic and wooden boards. Microbial counts were consistently high because bacteria will hide in the cracks and crevices of the board rendering cleaning ineffective. It is important to toss or refinish your cutting board if it appears to be heavily grooved to prevent this from occurring.
Here are some tips on how to effectively clean and sanitize your board:
1. Wash with soap and water using friction.
2. Rinse with warm water.
3. Sanitize using a mild solution of bleach to water, approximately 5mL bleach to 500mL water.
4. Finally allow to air dry for optimum results.