I wrote a blog about caring for wooden cutting boards and bowls, in response I was made aware of the misinformation that I had based my blog on: contrary to what I wrote, wood is not safer than plastic as far as carrying bacteria is concerned.
I have been told and have read over and over that there were findings in a lab study that found that wood pulled bacteria away from the surface while bacteria stayed and multiplied on the surface of cutting boards. This is exactly how rumors are started and become a part of history. As is often the case, there were vague answers to leading questions by the researchers testing wood cutting boards and plastic cutting boards, as published by SCIENCE NEWS in 1993.
“99.9 percent of the bacteria (on the wood boards) were unrecoverable and presumed dead.”
That is a pretty big presumption; it goes on to say:
While the wooden boards appear to kill bacteria. “We’ve not recovered the little critters’ dead bodies.” Cliver acknowledges. “So all we know is that by the best available means, we can’t get them back after they go onto a hoard.”
They didn’t wash any of the boards and left them overnight after smearing them with microbes and bacteria. The plastic boards were covered in bacteria, well dahhhhh, left in a perfect environment they multiply! What else do they have to do? They don’t exactly die by themselves…It’s a party in a petri dish!
So, because plastic can be put in water temperatures too hot for human hands in a dishwasher and cleaned using anti-bacterial soaps that often contain small amounts of chlorine bleach, also hard on hands, they are easier to maintain.
Plastic boards have other advantages: they are easy to buy in standard color codes for different food groups: Fish (blue)/Produce (green) /Meat (red) /Poultry (yellow), thus minimizing cross-contamination. At home I use different wood boards the same way, one of my boards has a poultry shape carved out of the center, another has steer shaped handles and a drain around the edge that I use for beef. I have huge boards for produce and I tend to use plastic for my fish because I really don’t want the salty brine to get into the wood and shtink it up. In fact I use a whole lot of plastic when I cook fish, plastic bags for the raw and cooked trash that I add to the bigger plastic bags. I light the incense when the meal is done and buried in the large plastic trashcan that is outside of the house.
Wooden boards are best for knifes; plastic boards can be purchased as a thin and flexible board that can be put on top of a wood or plastic baseboard. A damp kitchen towel can be used to keep a plastic board in place on a counter, as done in commercial kitchens. Wooden boards tend to stay in place.
Plastic boards are disposable, and should be tossed out when a slit appears, otherwise it just leaks and spews what ever you’re cutting under it and all over the counter. But wooden boards should be disposed of when they split or have a raw surface.
Glass cutting boards are just too rough on the knives and your wrist absorbs the jarring when that knife hits the unforgiving surface of the glass. They will last forever until they chip or shatter, and food and glass pieces? Not worth the risk.
For how to care for your wooden boards please go to the original blog: “Care for your wooden tools”. There you will find information on how to keep your wooden boards healthy and beautiful, just like U.