Wondering about the best kind of cutting board to use to help avoid a food-related illness? Here's all the info you need.
Cutting Board Basics: Wood vs. Plastic
Nonporous surfaces like plastic or glass are easier to clean than wood and thus better in terms of food safety. Wood is naturally porous, and those tiny fissures and grooves in wooden cutting boards can harbor bacteria. Which is why cutting boards made of wood aren't allowed in commercial kitchens. That being the case, why use them at home?
As for glass cutting boards, they're just awful for your knives and aren't allowed in commercial kitchens, either. Why? Because things get dropped in kitchens, and broken glass in the soup is a real no-no.
Bottom line: Use plastic or acrylic cutting boards, not wood or glass.
Consider using separate cutting boards for fresh produce and bread, raw meats, poultry, and seafood, dairy products, and cooked foods. This will prevent bacteria on a cutting board that is used for raw meat from contaminating a food that requires no further cooking. You can even purchase color-coded cutting boards to help you keep them separate.
Cleaning Cutting Boards
Cutting boards should be washed with hot, soapy water after each use, rinsed with clear water and air-dried. You can also pat them dry with clean paper towels — but don't dry with a dishtowel. Why? Dishtowels hang around the kitchen and get wiped on everything, making them the ideal vehicle for spreading bacteria from one kitchen tool or surface (or even your hands) to another.
Acrylic or plastic boards can be run through a dishwasher, which is a great way to clean and sanitize them. It's another reason they're superior to wooden boards, because wooden boards may warp, crack or split if washed in the dishwasher.
Sanitizing Cutting Boards
Don't have a dishwasher? You can sanitize plastic cutting boards in a chlorine solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. (Use unscented bleach only — don't use bleach that has lemon or pine scent added!)
Ideally, you'd fill a sink with this solution and then soak the cutting boards in it for half an hour or so, then rinse them with clear water and air dry. If your sink isn't big enough, you can fill a spray bottle with the sanitizing bleach solution and spritz the surface of the boards generously and let them stand for a few minutes, then rinse and dry as described.
Replace Worn Cutting Boards
Cutting boards wear out over time: they may develop hard-to-clean grooves from your knife, or they may just get dinged up from heavy use. Cutting boards are nothing to get sentimental over. When they wear out, toss them out and replace them.