Wood Cutting Boards – Why Choose Anything Else

I found the following online article that talks about the advantages of using a wood cutting board. We have been talking about the advantages for years,  and are glad that we are seeing more and  more people waking up to the positive attributes of a wood cutting board. I found the article at teleburst.wordpress.com:

Kitchen tool of the day – cutting boards

Here’s something that’s surprising to most people, even experienced chefs – plastic cutting boards might very well be more unsanitary than wooden ones. Even health department officials aren’t really up to speed on this.

Note that I said, “very well might”. Quibble words. that’s because the jury is still out on the subject. Only limited testing has been done.

One would think that an “inert” substance such as plastic would be safer than a porous, “organic” substance such as wood.

But if you think about it, it’s more likely that it’s the other way around. Have you looked at the surface of your plastic cutting board lately? Is is covered with minute gouges? Sure it is. Well these minutes cuts and scratches are like the Grand Canyon when it comes to bacteria. Do you think your formica countertop doesn’t harbor bacteria?

Bacteria is quite happy on plastic, especially when there are microscopic bits of decaying organic material to feast on. So, just because a cutting board is plastic doesn’t mean that it’s automatically free of contamination. But it “seems” safer than wood, doesn’t it? Plus, it’s easier to show that it’s “clean”, because it takes a while for discoloration to show up. This is one of the reasons why health departments like them so much – they “look clean”, until they don’t, of course. Eventually, every plastic cutting board gets discolored. This makes it easy on the health inspector to visually “inspect” the cutting board and dock a discolored one, since they usually don’t run lab tests on them.

But, as it turns out, wood has an interesting property. It seemingly has natural anti-bacterial properties. The thing is, bacteria has a harder time gaining a foothold on wood than it does plastic. Not only might wood retard the growth of bacteria naturally, it also dries quicker. Water is like manna for bacteria, which is why crackers rarely offer a health hazard, no matter how old they might be. Plastic has an advantage in that it’s disinfected and sanitized easier than wood. But once a plastic cutting board is “scarred”, which happens pretty quickly, it can be actually harder to disinfect than wood, even wood which has been “scarred”. There’s something in wood that tends to retard the spread of bacteria, and there’s the moisture issue that I mentioned.

It’s odd that this information has been out there for a decade and it still hasn’t sunk into the collective consciousness. I think there’s just some sort of “hospitalesque” thing about a smooth piece of plastic that stays in peoples’ minds.

Obviously, the care of cutting boards is mission critical.

Keep in mind that there’s a difference between “disinfected” and “sterilized”. However, in any case, bleach is your friend. The key is to keep the bleach odor from sticking around to contaminate the flavor profile of whatever you’re preparing. Vinegar can help you with that. Remember that a 5% solution of bleach is sufficient to disinfect. A couple of teaspoons per gallon is good enough and the odor is minimal. A little bit of vinegar-infused water will counteract that…  Click here to read the full article.

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