Wood vs. Plastic Cutting Boards - Which is better - wood or plastic?

There is much debate on this topic, and I make no claim one way or the other on this subject. It is said that bacteria have a tougher time surviving on wood boards. Most people are surprised to hear that a wood cutting board may be more resistant to bacterial buildup than plastic ones. Research has shown that bacteria, such as the salmonella often found on raw chicken, will thrive and multiply if not removed from plastic boards (because germs that cause food poisoning can hide out in the knife-scarred nooks and crannies that develop on the surface of a plastic cutting board). Hand scrubbing with hot water and soap can clear microbes from the surface of new or used wooden cutting boards and new plastic ones, but knife-scared plastic boards are resistant to decontamination by hand washing.

Research and Studies to read – One study reported that new wooden boards had antimicrobial qualities while plastic cutting boards trapped bacteria. Source: Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards, by Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D. Although the Food and Drug Administration has long recommended plastic cutting boards, based on the observation that it is not as hard to clean plastic as porous wood, new information shows that wood cutting boards are actually safer than the plastic or so-called anti-bacterial kind. Source: Which Cutting Board is Safest? by Patrick J. Bird, University of Florida, College of Health and Human Performance. While at the same time the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture has concluded that the use of plastic cutting boards over those made of wood is still the best approach.

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Some useful tips;

  • To eliminate garlic, onion, fish, or other smells from your cutting board: Coarse salt or baking soda - Rub the board with coarse salt or baking soda. Let stand a few minutes and wipe salt or baking soda from board, and then rinse.
  • Use a good steel scraper or spatula often when using the board. Scraping removes 75% of the moisture that builds up on a wooden cutting board. An occasional sanding will return a wooden board to a smooth luster. But never scrub a wooden board with a steel brush (a steel brush will ruff up the finish and should be avoided).