When it comes to chopping fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, there is little doubt that it helps to have a good cutting board on which to do it. However, it isn’€™t always obvious whether to choose a wooden or plastic one — or indeed one made from some other material. Some schools of thought believe that plastic cutting boards are more hygienic that wooden ones, while others disagree. When deciding which type is best for your personal use, you should consider the following factors.
When using a knife to cut and chop food, there is bound to be a certain amount of damage done to the board. As time goes by, the surface area of the board to be cleaned increases, meaning that there is more risk of it harboring germs. It has long been believed that plastic boards are preferable in this respect, because wood can suck up and retain germs. However, a study carried out by the University of California, Davis showed that wooden boards stayed more or less the same over time, despite levels of use, whereas plastic boards, once used for some time, became increasingly difficult to keep clean. In addition, the bacteria that sink into the wood and live don’€™t do so for very long and certainly don’€™t multiply, unlike those that remain on plastic boards. It is therefore suggested that plastic boards don’t have hygiene advantages over wooden ones after all.
Ease of use
When it comes to ease of use, one cook will have different preferences over another. Many will prefer wooden boards simply because they seem to have a bit more give than plastic ones. Others will find that plastic boards, which often come with a carrying handle, are easier to handle, as well as being lighter than their wooden counterparts. Ultimately, if you are unsure which to use, try both and work out which you prefer by trial and error.
Choice of colors
One of the big advantages of plastic cutting boards is that they come in a variety of colors, whereas wooden boards are usually just brown. Colors can be useful if you want to differentiate between boards used for cutting meat, fish and vegetables — it is commonly believed that one way to pass on diseases such as Salmonella and E. coli is to use the same cutting boards for meat and other types of food. By coming up with a color code such as red for meat and green for vegetables, you can ensure that foodstuffs are chopped separately. Color coordination with your kitchen may also be a consideration.
An important consideration for many will be price, especially because there is such a big difference between the cheapest and most expensive cutting boards that you can buy. Good quality wooden boards tend to be the most expensive, so you will need to consider how much you prefer to use a wooden board. In terms of hygiene, it may be most cost-effective to have a number of plastic cutting boards that you simply throw away or recycle every few months.
Most people’€™s primary concern when it comes to kitchenware is hygiene. Nevertheless, as the study shows, both wooden and plastic boards can become unhygienic after heavy use. Your choice should therefore be a personal one.