Cutting Board Safety
Which are better, wood or plastic cutting boards? Consumers may choose either wood or a nonporous surface cutting board, including plastic. Research has shown that nonporous surfaces are easier to clean and safer for cutting meat and poultry. Even though some wooden boards have antimicrobial qualities, it has been found that microorganisms can become trapped in these surfaces and are difficult to dislodge by rinsing. Once trapped, bacteria survive in a dormant stage for long periods of time. The next time the cutting board is used these bacteria can contaminate other foods, potentially causing food-borne illness. On the other hand, even though microorganisms can be found on plastic cutting boards, they are more easily washed off of these nonporous surfaces.
Current cutting board recommendations include:
1. Keep all cutting boards clean by washing with hot, soapy water and a brush after each use. Then rinse and air dry or pat with paper towels. Nonporous acrylic, plastic, glass, and solid wood boards can be washed in the dishwasher.
2. Sanitize both wood and plastic cutting boards with a diluted chlorine bleach or vinegar solution consisting of one teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach in one quart of water or a one to five dilution of vinegar. Flood the surface with a sanitizing solution and allow it to stand for several minutes, then rinse and air-dry or pat dry with paper towels.
3. All plastic and wooden cutting boards wear out over time. Discard excessively worn cutting boards, especially those deeply grooved from use.
4. Use a separate cutting board and knives for raw foods that require cooking. For example, use one for meat, poultry or fish. Use a second one for cooked or ready-to-eat foods such as salads, vegetables or bread. This will prevent bacteria on a cutting board that is used for meat products from contaminating a food that requires no further cooking.
5. Another colorful way to prevent cross contamination between foods is to use color-coded cutting boards. The colors help you keep track of which cutting boards are for reserved for which types of foods, so that you’re less likely to cut lettuce on the same board you just used for prepping raw poultry.
Fortunately, you don’t need to adopt the entire system in order to cook more safely at home. Even having one separate, distinctively colored cutting board that’s reserved just for raw meat is a great idea — one that will go a long way toward minimizing your chances of a food-related illness. The different cutting board colors and their uses are: green for fruits and vegetables, yellow for raw poultry, blue for cooked food, white for dairy products, tan for fish & seafood, and red for raw meat.
Resource: University of Arizona Extension
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