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Chowline: Two Cutting Boards are Better Than One

I’m getting my own apartment soon and I’m shopping for a cutting board – should I get a wooden or plastic one?

Congrats on your new home!

When shopping for a new cutting board, there are many options to choose from, including wood, plastic, marble, glass or pyroceramic. While each one has its advantages and disadvantages, the easiest one to clean and keep clean, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a cutting board that has a nonporous surface.

That’s the most important thing to consider when buying and using a cutting board – how to keep it clean to decrease the risk of contamination of pathogens that can cause a foodborne illness. So when choosing a cutting board, you should look for one that is easy to clean, rinse and sanitize.

To clean your cutting board, wash it with hot, soapy water after each use, then rinse with clear water and air it dry or pat it dry with a clean paper towel, USDA advises. Also, nonporous cutting boards, including acrylic, plastic, glass and solid wood boards, can be washed in a dishwasher.  However, laminated cutting boards shouldn’t be placed in a dishwasher as this may cause it to crack and split.

If you’d rather sanitize your cutting board by hand, you can use a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Allow the bleach solution to sit on the cutting board for several minutes before rinsing well with clear water and letting it air dry or patting it dry with a clean paper towel.

Wood cutting boards are porous, although bamboo wood cutting boards are harder and less porous than hardwoods.  Bamboo absorbs very little moisture and resists scarring from knives, so they are more resistant to bacteria than other woods. You can clean bamboo cutting boards with hot soapy water and sanitize if you’d like. You can also rub bamboo cutting boards with mineral oil to help them retain moisture.

Another important thing to consider when buying or using a cutting board: make sure you use one cutting board for meat, poultry and seafood and a separate cutting board for fresh produce and bread. Even if you wash your cutting board after each use, it’s best to have separate cutting boards for veggies and for meat. This will lessen your risk for cross contamination of bacteria and pathogens from raw meat onto other foods.

Whatever cutting board you choose, it’s very important that you routinely inspect it to see if the cutting board has become excessively worn or has developed hard-to-clean groves, signs the board should no longer be used. Deep grooves make it difficult to thoroughly clean your cutting board and increase the risk of contamination.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

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