Plastic or Wooden cutting boards?

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danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
Looking at another recent thread here I was touched by the attached photos of the board and the cute little helper putting the final touches on a nice board for somebody's dad.

I used to make a few cutting boards with scrap wood in the past but then came along the health questions around using wood and not plastic. Like many others, my wife and I leaned towards plastic thinking we could put them in the dishwasher or spray them with a bleach mix and be on safe street??

https://commonsensehome.com/wooden-cutting-boards/

Here's a site that makes me wonder? I don't have the science background to debate the merits of wood over plastic but I would make a few more if I was convinced they are as germ free after a good cleaning as the plastic coming out of the dishwasher.

Thoughts?
 

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
Dan
Not sure we'll be able to answer that one to anyone's satisfaction. I have read arguments on both sides, and we may use wood cutting boards for vegetables, cheese, and breads, but always use plastic for meats. There are arguments about pore size and whatever, and I can't follow the microbiology; we follow your practice of cutting boards used for meats washed in the dishwasher (hence plastic).
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member


No worries about bacteria on this piece of maple. I guess I will make tools with the small scraps of wood I have piled up in the corner.







I'm making some veneer hammers like the ones on the right to sell when do this class in December up in PA.

I'm trying to get up to New England tomorrow but the weather is not looking favorable for the trip.

 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
We have used wood cutting boards exclusively since 1976 and never had any problems with sickness nor disease of any kind due to the boards.

When I cut meat (chicken, beef, pork) I wash the board in hot soapy water and dry with paper towels. Same with vegetables.

I always use quarter sawn white oak and never glue up cut pieces. I will not use a plastic cutting board for anything.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
I have been using the same wooden cutting board for almost 6 years - no problems with sickness nor disease. I clean the board with hot soapy water, dry with paper towels and when the board starts looking dry - I give it a good coat of mineral oil. It looks almost like new today and still gets used daily.
 

Berta

Berta
Corporate Member
I make and use wood cutting boards. I use plastic for meat. When Chuck wants to use my serrated knife to slice bread, he uses the plastic one. He has cut my wooden ones with the bread knife.

When I worked decorating cakes the inspector came in and made us get rid of anything wooden, including utensils with wooden handles. You can’t sanitize them.

At home clean is good enough.
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
Durning the eighties and again in the late nineties Cunsumer Reports and a few other health related groups preformed a multitude of tests between the two products. In every test after cleaning properly the wooden cutting boards had little to no bacteria growth compared to the plastic cutting board. I use both with no issues at all, mainly because we maintain an awareness of potential cross contamination. Basicly if in doubt then I wash it and then use it.
 

Boomer76

New User
Boomer
We use a wooden cutting board without any problems. My wife has been a vegetarian for twenty years and has not had any ill effects from cutting vegetables on the very same cutting board that chicken and beef get cut on. Of course when both are used in the same night the vegetables get cut first. But nonetheless after many chicken breasts and steaks have been cut on it we have not had any issues. We clean it just as you would anything else, hand washed with warm to hot soapy water and set up on the rack to drip dry. And just as an example of my wifes sensitivity, I have to grill her veggie burgers on tin foil because the old grease on the grill will get her terribly sick for two days. We have to be extremely conscience of cross contamination.
 

DSWalker

David
Corporate Member
First, I'll say thanks as I assume you are talking about my post and granddaughter. :) She is a cutie isn't she!

I have a bamboo cutting board. Try not to use any meat/pork etc. products on it. I'm guessing it is just personal preference. We do also have an older plastic one. it is cut up pretty good. I guess bacterial could hide in the cracks of the plastic or wood if not cleaned properly.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Have both with no problems from either. Wooden one was bought and says 'dishwasher safe', so we do. Plastic ones are thin and from a 4-pack bought at an outlet mall for ~$4. Cut one in half. When we prepare food and one is dirty, we grab another or flip that one over if it's just veggies. They also make good gluing mats.......
 

Steve Martin

Steve Martin
Senior User
I believe that if you call your local health department restaurant inspectors, they can answer this question for you. My memory is that NCSU did some studies back in the 1990's and found that wood was just as food safe as plastic and in some cases safer. But I'm sure the Environmental staff either at the local office or at the state level (Division of Environmental Health, Department of Environment and Natural Resources) can give you proper guidance.
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
When I started the thread I knew there would be a good number of responses as the question has loomed around for many years. I reaped the benefit of the "down on wood" view embraced by the school systems across the state.

All wood had to go.

At the high school where I taught 16 butcher block maple tables went to the dumpsters. These tables were on metal legs and the whole thing went out the door. It was like the plague.

Even the Ag Science tables had to go to be replaced by stainless steel. That never happened and the kids learned how to dress a deer and turkey on Youtube.

So.. I took all 16 tops off most of the leg stands and turned them into work benches. Sad but true.




 

shawn

shawn
Senior User
I've been using wood boards for 20 years. Never had a problem. My wife brought home a plastic one once, don't know where it is anymore. The B.S. over wood not being healthy was done to sell plastic IMO. Many years ago, I read an article that stated oak was, to some extent, anti-bacterial. Bottom line, humans have been using wood for cutting and butchering for centuries and we are still here. If you are concerned, the CDC recommends 1 Tbsp bleach to 1 Qt water for dis-infecting. I use warm soapy water and scrub with the scotch-brite side of a sponge then wipe down after preparing meat. My board is oak and I don't remember ever oiling it.
 

ehpoole

Administrator
Ethan
I believe that if you call your local health department restaurant inspectors, they can answer this question for you. My memory is that NCSU did some studies back in the 1990's and found that wood was just as food safe as plastic and in some cases safer. But I'm sure the Environmental staff either at the local office or at the state level (Division of Environmental Health, Department of Environment and Natural Resources) can give you proper guidance.
Studies have indeed been done and if one searches a bit they should turn up on the Net with a bit of Googling. Basically, the resins in most hardwoods are very resistant to rot in no small part because they have strong antimicrobial and antifungal properties. When culturing wooden boards washed (fairly gently) with soap and water after use and left to air-dry between uses versus plastic or glass cutting boards the wooden cutting boards often faired as well or better than the plastic (the plastic boards accumulate deep scratches over time that are difficult to fully clean).

In terms of hygeine glass cutting boards likely score the best, but they are rather hard on knife edges!

But the consensus was that basic washing with hot soapy water and a good rinse (no soaking wooden boards) was as good or better than a used plastic cutting board, so no reason to loose sleep over the great debate. The most important caution was not to mix cutting boards used with meats with those used for vegetables since meats are more likely to carry harmful bacteria whereas many vegetables are served raw, so you will want separate cutting boards for each task.
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
Before grocery stores became super markets with centrally packaged meat factories they all had in-store butchers. Most if not all butchers in those days used those big free standing wood butcher blocks to break down primal cuts and such. I worked in such a store in the early 60's and one of my jobs on days I worked in the meat section was cleaning one of those monsters as well as everything else Iike band saws and grinders. I don't recall any issues of any kind related to wood butcher blocks.
 

Rick M

Rick
Corporate Member
When I think of all the fish and game I've eaten processed on wood boards hosed down with nothing but ocean, well, or river water, according to plastic board manufacturers I should be dead 50x over. What kind of plastic boards did people use before the 20th century.
 
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