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Wood or Plastic: Which Chopping Board Should You Pick?

Chefs may differ on what the most important tool in the kitchen is, but there’s one   item they often overlook. The humble chopping board. Used day in and out, this kitchen essential is often put in the shade by its flashier friends, the knife and peeler.

But which is the best kind – wood, plastic or newbie glass?

Most of us believe that plastic boards are safer and more sanitary than wood. However, that’s not true. Research has shown that wood can actually be more hygienic in the long run. Wood may be porous than plastic, but a knife slices between wood fibres (as opposed to cutting into them) and leaves no mark. A plastic board tends to collect bacteria within ridges and rough spots created by knife wear.

Dr. Dean O. Cliver, of University of California, conducted research on the subject and found that wood cutting boards contained less salmonella bacteria than plastic. On wood boards, the bacteria sank “down beneath the surface of the cutting board, where they didn’t multiply and eventually died”. On plastic boards, bacteria got caught in knife grooves that were impossible to clean out.

Our takeaway:

  1. Opt for a hard wood cutting board because it won’t scar as easily as plastic and you won’t have to replace it very often.

  2. Maintain your wood board well – wash and dry it, and lightly rub it with mineral oil to prevent moisture and bacteria from seeping in.

  3. Use separate cutting boards (one wood, one plastic) for raw meat and poultry, and for your vegetables, fruit and prepared food to limit cross-contamination.

  4. Glass boards are the last on the list – they may look pretty, but they are tough to handle, dull knives and have no grip when chopping.

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