Organic Consumers Association

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Why You Should Always Choose a Wooden Cutting Board

No other work surface compares when it comes to cleanliness, knife maintenance, and - let's be honest - attractiveness.

Ask a chef what their most important tool is, and they’ll probably say a knife. A good knife makes cooking far easier and more pleasant, but only when it’s paired with a trusty partner – the cutting board. Having a proper cutting board is important because it keeps a knife from going dull too soon.

There is really only one kind of cutting board you should buy, and that is a wooden one. The idea that plastic can be cleaned and disinfected more thoroughly than wood is wrong. Wood absorbs residual food-borne bacteria after manual cleaning with soapy hot water, but it holds the bacteria inside, where it cannot multiply and eventually dies. Studies have found that, even when a ‘contaminated’ wooden cutting board is sliced open with a sharp knife, the bacteria do not come out.

Plastic cutting boards, by contrast, can only be truly disinfected when they’re brand new. As soon as they have cut marks on the surface, which is the case for most household cutting boards, they’re difficult to clean because they trap the bacteria in hard-to-reach crevices but do not possess any natural antimicrobial qualities that can kill it.

Dean O. Cliver, a professor food safety at University of California Davis and lead researcher on this topic, told Rodale:

“With the plastic, after manual washing as I would do under my kitchen faucet, we could still recover bacteria from grooves.” Dishwashers didn’t eliminate the problem either because the bacteria didn’t actually die—they were re-deposited on other surfaces in the dishwasher. And tests on old plastic boards treated with disinfectants such as chlorine bleach still found levels of residual bacteria hiding in grooves, he adds.

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