Is Your Cutting Board Harboring Germs?

Who doesn’t like fresh cut veggies? I do. However, chopping up these little bits of goodness requires a cutting board. I have a cute bamboo one that I like to use for just about everything. I like the feel of it – and it looks cleaner and just more natural than the plastic colored ones. But, is it harboring germs?

The common perception is that wooden cutting boards hold ickier, little germs – but is this really true? I think there are benefits and disadvantages of wooden and plastic boards. However, let’s go to the experts to tell us what the various reasons are.

Wooden Boards: Dean O. Cliver, PhD, professor emeritus of food safety at the University of California, Davis (who has been studying this issue since the early 1990’s – this guy is no joke!) research found “that wooden cutting boards seemed to pull the bacteria down beneath the surface of the cutting board, where they didn’t multiply and eventually died off.”And although some experts say that every time a knife scratches the surface – germs reappear, Dr. Cliver’s research found that “the bacteria never reappear on the surface.”

Plastic Boards: In Dr. Cliver’s same research he found “the plastic [boards], after manual washing as I would do under my kitchen faucet, we could still recover bacteria from grooves.” The Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management has found that unless plastic cutting boards are soaked nightly in bleach, they are very prone to absorbing hard-to-remove food residues that could promote the growth of bacteria and black mold.

Now, don’t take this research (above) as the solid truth. Every cook has her favorite cutting board…etc. This is actually a highly debated topic in the cooking realm. I think it’s fair to say, stick your cutting board in the dishwasher after use. This should be a no-brainer. In the long run a wooden cutting board will hold up longer (less stains) and is defiantly a softer surface for your knives.


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