Plastic or wood - which is best for cutting boards? Surprisingly, research indicates they are similar in their ability to support bacteria. Whichever you choose, it's important to remember that if your board acquires deep cracks or cuts, replace it. Bacteria thrive especially well in these hard-to-clean locations.
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A better recommendation is to buy two cutting boards: Use one only for protein foods (meat, cheese, eggs, etc.), and the other for non-protein foodstuffs. Protein residues can become contaminated with bacteria much more readily than non-protein foods. So, by following this two-board procedure, you’ll be far less likely to unknowingly contaminate your breads, fruits, and vegetables.
Of course, it’s important to wash all cutting boards (wood or plastic) frequently and thoroughly. This is especially important after cutting raw meat or cooked eggs. Washing your cutting boards in the dishwasher helps to disinfect them. Also, pouring a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide (the type commonly sold in drug stores) over a washed cutting board, rubbing it into the surface, then rinsing, can reduce bacteria colonization. Another tactic is to rub a half lemon on the surface of your cleaned cutting boards. The acid in the lemon acts as a sanitizer and helps counter odors.
If you’re in the market for a wood cutting board, consider a close-grained, low-odor hardwood such as maple, sold in most local kitchenware departments and kitchen/gourmet cooking stores. If you find the “woody” odor of your new cutting board objectionable, wash it several times with a plant-based dish soap and/or with baking soda and water. Then rinse it completely, towel dry, and place it outdoors in the sun to air for a few days. (Be sure the surroundings are dry and uncontaminated.) When the odor is no longer bothersome, bring the board inside, wash and rinse it thoroughly, let it dry, and begin using it.
(Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)
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