Germ Buildup on Cutting Boards: Why Wood is a Better and Safer Material than Plastic

In sharp contrast to what most of us tend to believe, wood is actually a better and safer material for cutting boards. The general consensus is that since wood is an organic, porous material and plastic isn’t, the germ buildup from cutting the food on the former would be much higher than the latter. Why people might think that is understandable, but it’s just not true scientifically, and we are about to tell you why that is so.

Plastic Boards Develop Scars

A plastic board will inevitably develop scars on its surface when used daily for cutting food on it. Those scars will host and shelter bacteria and other microbes in the same way a plastic petri dish might.

Cleaning definitely helps, but once the board has been used for a while, the scars become deep, not allowing you to wash as thoroughly as would be necessary to get rid of all the germs nestled deep within those scars on your plastic cutting board. This is the reason why salmonella is usually found in larger quantities on a plastic board which has seen a lot of use, than a wood cutting board that has been used for a similar amount of time and activity.

Bacterial Growth Cannot Survive Inside Wood

Be it salmonella or any other strain of harmful microbes, they eventually die off inside a high-quality wooden cutting board, such as those made from maple or walnut in particular. The Virginia Boys Kitchen website has several solid walnut cutting boards that exemplify the kind of quality which we are talking about here.

What happens is that even when bacteria manages to get inside the scars left by knives on walnut boards, it sinks deeper into the porous surface of the wood naturally. Due to the nature of the cured walnut boards, the bacteria cannot have access to what it needs in order to survive or breed, therefore, it simply dies off.

Walnut Boards are Resistant to Cuts and Grooves

Compared to plastic, maple or walnut is a lot more resistant to being scarred by your knives. Scarring is inevitable, of course, but the cuts will, most likely, not be deep enough to harbor bacteria upon being washed thoroughly and regularly, which is another reason why wooden boards are safer.

Washing and Regular Cleaning is Imperative for Safety, Irrespective of the Material

As should be clear by now, well-made wood cutting boards are better than plastic cutting boards in terms of preventing germ buildup, but regular washing and cleaning is very important, irrespective of the material used to make the board.

Finally, the most important aspect of keeping your food safe from infectious microbes is to separate the cutting board which you use to cut fruits and vegetables, from the one used for cutting meat. Meat and poultry are usually foods which have salmonella in them, so when you use the same cutting board for meat and fruit, the possibility of the leftover bacterial residue entering your body from the fruit you are eating is much higher. After all, we generally don’t cook fruits before eating them.

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