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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 01-13-2006, 02:08 PM   #1
backyardchef
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Default Cutting Board Materials

What do you all think about cutting boards and contamination? Wood/Plastic, etc...? Do you think it all comes down to what you prefer, and what dulls knives the least, or is there something more to it?

The following comes from Cook's Illustrated's Site

Link: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/food...d=110&bdc=1320

The Truth About Cutting Boards and Bacteria

The Bac Story
In 1994, a research report was published that proved to be the opening salvo in a long battle over which material was more sanitary for cutting boards, wood or plastic. The researchers found that fewer bacteria could be recovered from wooden boards infected with live cultures than from plastic boards treated the same way. These results caused the researchers to question the prevailing view that plastic was more sanitary than wood; some have further interpreted the data to mean that wood is, in fact, a safer material for cutting boards. In a report that followed, researchers at a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) lab concluded that beef bacteria on polyethylene and wooden cutting boards had statistically similar patterns of attachment and removal. Even so, the idea that wood is more sanitary than plastic persists and was recently reaffirmed in the food section of the New York Times.

So What Is on Your Cutting Board?
We wanted to get our own perspective on the problem, so we asked four staff members to donate their used boards, two wooden and two plastic. We found very little bacteria growing on these boards when we sampled them, so we took the boards to a local lab to have them artificially inoculated with bacteria. The procedure worked as follows: A drop of the medium containing millions of bacteria was placed on the boards, the boards were left to sit for 40 minutes to allow for absorption of the bacteria, and an attempt was then made to remove the bacteria. In repeated tests, between 6.0 percent and 8.1 percent of the bacteria were recovered from the plastic and between 1.3 percent and 6.2 percent from the wood. Given that the number of bacteria recovered from each type of board was well into the hundreds of thousands, there was little to assure us that one material was much safer than the other.

Soap and Water to the Rescue
Scrubbing the boards with hot soapy water was a different story. Once the contaminated boards had been cleaned, we recovered an average of 0.00015 percent from the plastic and 0.00037 percent from the wood, or fewer than 100 bacteria from each board. In a related test, we were able to transfer bacteria from contaminated, unwashed boards made from both wood and plastic to petri dishes using potatoes and onions. But our most surprising discovery by far was that the bacteria could persist on unwashed boards of both types for up to 60 hours!

What, then, is the truth about cutting boards? Both plastic and wooden boards can hold on to bacteria for long periods of time. Both plastic and wooden boards allow for transference of bacteria to other foods. Luckily, we found that scrubbing with hot soapy water was an effective (though not perfect) way of cleaning both kinds of boards; the USDA also recommends the regular application of a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach per quart of water. Simply put, maintenance, not material, provides the greatest margin of safety.
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Unread 01-13-2006, 02:13 PM   #2
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I for the most part use the plastic boards. They can be thrown into the dish washer for a good cleaning. I have a couple of boards that are the sink cut-outs from corian counter tops that are great.
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Unread 01-13-2006, 02:28 PM   #3
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I use the counter tops I think the knife marks add something to the over all look of the Kitchen.
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Unread 01-13-2006, 02:45 PM   #4
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I've been debating this with my brother for years. The only advantage I can see to plastic is the dishwasher mod, and they are cheap. I replace mine a lot.

Brother Dave, (my bro) claims that he read somewhere that pine, other than being soft, is the best defence against bacteria because of something in the natural pine tar.
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Unread 01-13-2006, 04:47 PM   #5
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Last I heard a month or so back the final word after the research was complete, was that wood cutting boards are safer. I use plastic and like them fine. This company offers a great service for anyone looking for a wood cutting board made to order.
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Unread 01-13-2006, 08:05 PM   #6
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I thought I heard the same thing about wood being safer, Zilla. I guess the key is to be careful all around. We keep a spray bottle with diluted bleach under the sink, and every so often, we give everything a spritz and a good rinse. Are those wood blocks high maintenance?
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Unread 01-13-2006, 08:26 PM   #7
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Keep them as dry as possible all the time. If you have a thick high quality board and keep it dry and oiled they will out last us all.
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Unread 01-13-2006, 08:52 PM   #8
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We have been using John Boos hard maple cutting boards for years without problems. We clean them with a solution of water and bleach. About once a month we oil it with mineral oil. Don't use an organic oil or it will go rancid.
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Unread 01-13-2006, 08:54 PM   #9
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Damn it !!! Within the last week, I read a whole article about this same debate and now I can't recall where I read it...

The takeaway I got was that it's a toss up if you take proper precautions for both as noted above. Plastic is cheaper but a good wood board is best for your knives.
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Unread 01-13-2006, 09:41 PM   #10
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I always thought wood was much worse than plastic. I would assume the same holds true for wooden spoons versus plastic spoons. I'm always throwing away wooden spoons after a few months of stirring spagetti, mashed potatoes and soup mix because they look like they never really get clean. ANy thoughts on that?
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Unread 01-13-2006, 10:15 PM   #11
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Have no idea about wooden spoons but if my Grandmother's (she's 83) wood spoon is a gauge, then it's perfectly safe...

For as long as I can remember from when I was in grade school (I'll be 31 in this yr), she's stirred her Sunday sauce, with the same wooden spoon. Cleans it after use,air dries it and put's it back in the drawer with all the other utensils that probably just as old.

Maybe the fact that she uses the same pot for at least 30 yrs does something.. All I know is that it's the best damn sauce I've ever eaten. She's given me and my parent's her exact recipe and no matter what we do, it never tastes the same....

That spoon is practically the equivalent of a petrified tree at this point, but it looks fine and anything she cooks with it comes out perfect. Wouldn't want to send it to a lab though ....
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Unread 01-13-2006, 10:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoker
I always thought wood was much worse than plastic. I would assume the same holds true for wooden spoons versus plastic spoons. I'm always throwing away wooden spoons after a few months of stirring spagetti, mashed potatoes and soup mix because they look like they never really get clean. ANy thoughts on that?
Then I should toss the wooden spoon that my mom has used for fifty years? Never a single person has gotten sick from one of her meals.
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Unread 01-14-2006, 07:24 AM   #13
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Well I see it as keep them clean and they both work fine. I just keep the boards seporated for beef, chicken, and fish or ya also a different one for veg. I have been in the food business since I was a kid and hot soapy water to clean and a bleach water rince. I have not hurt anyone yet.

wood or plastic = Just keep it clean
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Unread 01-14-2006, 08:33 AM   #14
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Years ago, I unknowingly bought a bamboo spatula, and after 15 years and many new bamboo untensils later I will never use anything else. They rule as far as wooden type spoons go.
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Unread 01-14-2006, 08:38 AM   #15
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Most of my cutting boards are wood.
I agree with Scotty. No matter if it's wood or plastic just keep it clean and you will have no problems.
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