Are Plastic Cutting Boards Safe?

Plastic cutting boards come in different colors, and they are popular as an alternative to wood. There are many benefits to using them, but are they safe to use? In a recent visit, my son bought us wood cutting boards and wanted us to get rid of the plastic ones we were using. He doesn’t think they are safe to use. That made me concerned since we have been using plastic cutting boards forever. I had to know. So, I did my research, and this is what I learned.

Plastic cutting boards are safe as long as you take steps to make sure that they are sanitized and cleaned after each use. You will want to pay attention to any grooves you get from your knife because it creates a spot where bacteria can grow. Plastic isn’t a porous substance, but the scars from daily use can serve as hiding places for bacteria.

It is important to understand how to ensure that your plastic cutting board is as safe as possible to use. You will want to take care of it and pay attention to how you clean it. Continue reading to learn whether plastic cutting boards are safe and how to take care of them.

Are Plastic Cutting Boards Safe?

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), both plastic and wood cutting boards are safe as long as you clean them properly and replace them regularly. Once they develop scars from the knife, it is time to replace them. These scars are a place where bacteria can grow, and it is very hard to clean them once the grooves are deep.

However, plastic cutting boards come in sets with multiple colors, which allows you to designate a color for a particular type of food. For example, you can choose one color for meat and another for vegetables. This helps to prevent cross-contamination. Some people will buy a set of five plastic cutting boards, and they will assign them as follows:

  • Red: raw meat
  • Orange or Tan: seafood and fish
  • Yellow: raw chicken
  • Green: fruits and vegetables
  • Blue: cooked food

This will help minimize how often you use each cutting board and ensure that your food is safely prepared.

You need to pay attention to your cutting boards and look for signs of wear. You will find that there are grooves in the cutting board from the knife over time. Wood has some self-healing properties and is more forgiving when it comes to marks from knives, whereas plastic will not heal from the wound. Keep a close eye on it because bacteria can hide and multiply in the grooves. It is hard to get it out even with washing. If you aren’t sure that the grooves are getting clean, you will want to replace it.

Are Plastic Cutting Boards Better Than Wood?

Some people prefer wood cutting boards, while others prefer plastic. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Wood is a porous material, so it is easy for bacteria to get inside. You can condition a wood cutting board with mineral oil and a conditioner.

You need to hand wash them because the dishwasher will dry out the cutting board. When this happens, crevices will appear where bacteria can grow. If you maintain your wood cutting board with oil, this will help it to last longer, keep its moisture, and heal after knicks from the knife.

When you hand wash cutting boards or anything else in your kitchen sink you should not use kitchen sponges.

Plastic cutting boards are easier to use because you can throw them in the dishwasher to clean them. You only need to pay attention to the grooves that come from use. They are less forgiving and will dull your knives more quickly than wood, but they are less likely to harbor bacteria.

For most people, it is a matter of personal preference. Both types of cutting boards do a great job, and you simply need to make sure that you clean them properly so that they aren’t able to hold bacteria. If you feel that your cutting board is old, it is probably time to replace it.

Wooden or Plastic Cutting Boards – Which One is Right for Your Kitchen?

This video from Fix.com goes over the merits of wooden and plastic cutting boards. It explains that they have their own specific uses and takes us through what you need to know.

When Should You Replace Your Plastic Cutting Board?

You should replace your plastic cutting board as soon as you have concerns about being able to clean it. If you notice visible damage on the surface, it is definitely time to get a new cutting board. The grooves are very difficult to clean, and bacteria will grow inside, which can contaminate your food.

You should wash your cutting board every time you use it. You can throw it in the dishwasher, which is effective because the high temperature of the water helps to kill any bacteria. You should make sure that it is, in fact, dishwasher-safe and you won’t want to put it directly in the dishwasher if you use it to cut raw meat.

You will want to sanitize your plastic cutting board periodically to help keep it clean. You can do this by using one tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of water to clean the cutting board. Once you finish cleaning it, you should rinse it thoroughly with hot water. Then let the cutting board air dry.

How to Avoid Cross-Contamination

There are some foods that you cannot cut on the same cutting board. For instance, raw meat should never be cut on the same board as vegetables or anything else that you plan to eat. The reason is that raw meat contains bacteria that make people sick. If it is on the cutting board and gets on the vegetables, it can make you sick.

The best way to avoid cross-contamination is to have different cutting boards assigned to different types of food. As stated above, you can get colored cutting boards and know that you are not cross-contaminating. Make sure that you never cut raw meat or chicken on the same board as other foods.

Closing Thoughts

Plastic cutting boards are safe as long as you take care of them and clean them properly to ensure that it is free from bacteria. Make sure that you replace them when they have grooves where bacteria can grow and take the time to sanitize them periodically.

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