Food Safety, Preparation and Storage Tips
Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the University of Arizona

Cutting Boards (Plastic Versus Wood)

Which is better, wooden or plastic cutting board? Recent research has confirmed the conventional belief that plastic is safer than wood for cutting meat and poultry.

One study reported that new wooden boards had antimicrobial qualities while plastic cutting boards trapped bacteria. However, more recent studies by the Food and Drug Administration found that microorganisms became trapped in wood surfaces and were difficult to dislodge by rinsing. Once trapped, bacteria survive in a dormant stage for long periods of time. The next time the cutting board is used, these bacteria could contaminate other foods, potentially causing food-borne illness. On the other hand, the study found that microorganisms were easily washed off plastic surfaces.

Current cutting board recommendations are:

Keep all cutting boards clean by washing with hot soapy water and a brush after each use. Then rinse and air dry or pat dry with paper towels. Non-porous acrylic, plastic, glass, and solid wood boards can be washed in an automatic dishwasher.

Sanitize both wood and plastic cutting boards with a diluted chlorine bleach or vinegar solution consisting of one teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach in one quart of water or a one to five dilution of vinegar. Flood the surface with a sanitizing solution and allow it to stand for several minutes, then rinse and air dry or pat dry with paper towels.

Discard excessively worn cutting boards.

Use a separate cutting board and knives for raw foods that require cooking. For example, use one for meat, poultry, or fish, and another for cooked or ready-to-eat foods such as salad, vegetables, and breads.


Material written by Mary Abgrall and Scottie Misner, April 1998.
Part of Food Safety Tips, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona
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