Plastic Chopping Blocks Vs Wooden Chopping Blocks – When To Choose Which?

chefs chopping boards - wooden

Arguably, the two most important pieces of equipment in any kitchen are knives and chopping boards. After all, one without the other is pretty much useless. Choosing a knife is easy, primarily as there’s a knife for every purpose readily available. But when it comes to chopping boards…well, there’s one question thousands of chefs and home cooks alike find themselves pondering every day:

Wood or plastic?

So the most immediately thing to get out of the way here is that regardless of what you may have read, plastic cutting boards are not by their very nature more hygienic that wooden boards. In fact, studies have shown it to be the other way around, with wood having natural anti-bacterial properties that give it the edge over plastic. And of course, the scars left in the plastic by the knives being worked with can also make for a surface that’s much more difficult to keep hygienically clean.

But then you have the arguments on the other side of the coin which support the use of plastic boards. For one thing, plastic isn’t porous, which in turn means it cannot and will not absorb dirt and bacteria. For the most part, plastic chopping boards can be cleaned in a commercial dishwasher without damaging them, whereas wood requires wiping and cannot be soaked in water. Along with this, there’s the way in which it is so much faster and easier to fully dry a plastic chopping board, given how it won’t’ soak up water during the cleaning process.

The thing is though, all of the above arguments are only valid if the quality of the board in question is high enough and sufficient effort is made to keep them hygienically clean. As such, we’re pretty much back to square-one when it comes to the all-important question.

As far as leading health authorities and public health and safety advisors are concerned, both wood and plastic can be comprehensively safe – if they are properly looked after. In addition, the application of the board should also be taken into account.

For example, while a premium Rock Maple board might make a perfect butchers block, the same cannot be said for plastic. The reason being that a plastic board would far too quickly become slashed, cracked and damaged in general, in turn harbouring germs and bacteria. By contrast, if the board is simply to be used for everyday slicing of fruits, vegetable and even raw meat, a quality plastic board would get the job done just fine.

Along with investing the TLC required to keep all boards in the best possible condition, one of the most effective ways of bolstering health and safety is to religiously follow anti-cross-contamination good practice guidelines. Which is of course the single biggest threat when it comes to the potential transmission of foodborne illness.

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