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Cutting boards

How long is too long to keep a plastic cutting board? I have one that's about 10 yrs old and has food stains. I no longer use it but for some reason never tossed it. Am I overreacting?

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  1. If you do not use it, then you might as well toss it then.

    1. Why don't you use it? They will last practically forever. I'm sure that my oldest one is much older than that and still perfectly functional. This type is the easiest to clean, and the only type I use for meats.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GH1618

        Pretty much because I bought a bamboo one and I have the cutting sheets (the ones that come in different colors) Guess I'll keep it a bit longer. Funny thing I used it today and kinda missed it.

      2. a little hydrogen peroxide or bleach solution would look after the food stains :)
        I use my plastic cutting boards until the surface is no longer flat (different from "smooth"... which it won't be after a little use) enough to accommodate my knife edge (7" blade). Then I either use a hand plane to refine the surface, or re-purpose for non-food uses.

        1. If it's old, you should toss it. In fact, if it's plastic, you should toss it. Wood is much safer. http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/fac...

          1 Reply
          1. re: seiun

            I have wood and plastic.

            My 2 plastic cutting boards go into the dishwasher that has a sanitizing mode included. When they start showing knife marks, etc., they get tossed. I've also used plastic when camping and a good washing with bleach does the trick...never a problem.

          2. Stains are not a problem, and age is not a problem — grooves cut in the surface are. The UC Davis document cited (which is merely an internal summary of research, not a published study), describes the problem of manual cleaning of grooved boards. The USDA/FSIS recommends discarding plastic cutting boards with scarred surfaces.

            Do you have a dishwasher? Does it have a sanitizing rinse cycle? I use a separate polyethelene board for meats, and I wash it in the dishwasher after each use using the high-temperature cycles.


            1. The problem with plastic boards is the groves that get cut into them. If they get deep enough, it's though to get the food particles out of it. If it's scared very deeply, you might want to consider tossing it. If it's not too bad, stick it in the dishwasher to sanatize it.

              11 Replies
              1. re: mikie

                The Dishwasher won't sanitize the bacteria that can grow in the cuts and scratches in a plastic board. There has been a number of studies done showing that used plastic boards are not sanitary. I'd avoid plastic and Bamboo if possible and switch to end grain Maple or perhaps edge grain as it's more cost effective and much better for your knives than either plastic or bamboo.
                No need to spend a bunch on a wood board. Check over stocks or watch for sales.


                1. re: TraderJoe

                  This leaves me wondering: why do restaurants use plastic boards? It's not the best for knifes, the portability isn't an issue from my (limited) knowledge and it isn't cheaper overall unless the place isn't following a health department's dict-ought that makes sense. Inertia?

                  1. re: shezmu

                    A plastic cutting board is just easier to explain to health inspectors. Plastic boards can go inside a dishwasher, and do not swell, wrap or bend...etc. So they are a lot easier to take care of. Plastic boards should be cheaper than wood boards, unless you mean the rubber cutting boards. Those are heavy and are very dense -- very heavy. I still see them in many places.


                    1. re: shezmu

                      Using high-density polyethelene for cutting boards is probably the easiest and cheapest way to comply with FDA regulations. They can be color-coded to make it easier to avoid cross contamination, and they can be sanitized in a commercial dishwasher.

                      1. re: shezmu

                        This leaves me wondering: why do restaurants use plastic boards?


                        Because of Health codes but those are starting to change at least in the US.
                        Michigan Maple Block and Boos make NSF edge grain boards for those who need the rating.

                        No plastic or polyethelene boards can be sanitized in the dish machine once they are scratched. That was a myth that's been put to rest. Using scratched Poly boards will get you a major health code violation. If you could sanitize them in the dish machine there would be no reason for color coding as they would....all be sanitary. ;)

                        Plastic boards are no longer cheap with Health inspectors insisting they get tossed when scratched. End or Edge grain Maple is the best option for the home cook and thankfully we can now use NSF Maple in professional kitchens again in many areas.


                        1. re: TraderJoe

                          The statement about color coding is incorrect. The FDA requires cutting boards to be sanitized when switching from one meat to another which requires a lower cooking temperature, such as from chicken to fish, or when switching from meat to vegetables. Color-coding makes it easy to set up stations used for only one category of meat, so as to reduce the frequency of sanitization and the possibility of cross-contamination.

                          Wooden boards can be used, but they still need to be sanitized when switching uses.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            The FDA does not inspect most professional kitchens. We deal with State health inspectors. Hospitals or packing plants etc may deal with the FDA but that's not the norm by any means in the restaurant biz.
                            Either way color coding is not required and you have to sanitize a board irrespective if it was color coded or not. Bacteria levels change with each batch of meat even if it's the same type. You need to sanitize a board in a professional setting frequently or your going to get cross-contamination even if it is from the same protein in different batches.
                            At home I used edge grain for butchering and end grain for daily use.


                            1. re: TraderJoe

                              Of course the need for sanitization does not depend on the color per se, but color coding simplifies the separation of use, reducing the possibility of error, and reducing the frequency of sanitization required by the regulations, whether state or federal.

                              I am sure that most restaurant owners will take the easiest, lowest cost approach to compliance. If polyethelene boards are in common use in restaurants today, that is proof to me that they are an easy and inexpensive means of complyong with food safety regulations.

                              State regulations, by the way, are just cloned from the FDA, for the most part.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                " reducing the frequency of sanitization required by the regulations, whether state or federal"
                                Absolutely not. Color coding does not reduce the frequency of sanitation or alter the regulations for sanitizing.That sounds like a bad sales pitch. A contaminated board is just that be it plastic, rubber or wood.
                                When a board is sanitized there is no error just a clean board. Sadly there are still those who think they can just pund an abused board through a dish machine and all is well. I hope to never work or eat in those establishments.
                                State health regulations vary by such an astronomical amount from State to state in the US and even from county to county that they rarely have any bearing on FDA guidelines. The two agencies have little in common.


                                1. re: TraderJoe

                                  *points to traderjoe's posts*

                                  All I know is that wood boards are better cutting surfaces, look better, and last a lot longer than plastic boards (following safety standards).

                                  1. re: shezmu

                                    a restaurant, it's an "either/or" type of decision.
                                    not so in a home kitchen.
                                    in my home kitchen i like to use wood for cutting some things (like watermelon and bread) and dish-washable poly for others (like avocados and onions).

                  2. Here's a link to a short article on the subject with a new twist — so-called "anti-bacterial" cutting boards:


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: GH1618

                      That is an excellent article on the subject, which I have saved.

                      I believe there are a few issues presented here:

                      First, does one find it easier to clean a wood cutting board ? The answer is they tend to be nice to look at, but heavy, and usually cleaned with a soapy sponge in place, on the countertop usually near the sink. Such a board is not going to be soaked in a sink full of detergent or ever to be found in the dishwasher.

                      Second, are the plastic cutting boards or coloured cutting mats easier to clean ? The answer here is that they can be picked up and manipulated better than a heavy wooden cutting board. In many cases they can be placed in a dishwasher at higher temperatures, and with more soap applied than found on a common sponge. But certainly they can be soaked in a large soapy sink with hot water.

                      Which brings up the next issue: Third, how clean or sanitary actually is your sponge ? Having a dirty sponge to clean with clearly just moves dirt and bacteria around. The process starts there, and perhaps the cutting surface was relatively clean to begin with. But now wiped with a dirty sponge, the bacterial party has just started, or greatly enhanced..

                      A helpful suggestion or two:

                      1. Keep the sponge clean, out of the sink when not in use, and wash it in the dishwasher (or with high temp and soap) as needed, not just once a week. Yes, you may go through a few more sponges that way, but the kitchen will be cleaner and healthier when you cook. !st line of defense.

                      2. Take a look at this hybrid in the attached photos. A very hard wood cutting board, with coloured bacterialstatic coloured mats, textured on the bottom to avoid slipping to match. These can be cleaned daily or as needed in any dishwasher, but as an extra precaution they should be scrubbed clean with a brush first. The mats also do not dull knives.

                      You obtain the benefits of a good hard wood cutting board surface, which stays clean most of the time, and the mats can be cleaned as needed, and replaced if deeply cut. For the hard wood enthusiasts, the mats can be put away and your clean wood cutting board reamining for display.

                      ( Your guests will never know ).

                      1. re: SWISSAIRE

                        First, does one find it easier to clean a wood cutting board?


                        Actually yes and no you shouldn't soak a wooden board in the sink or run it through a dish machine. You should sanitize any board and avoid one sided wooden boards with feet. Once plastic has cuts it will hold bacteria even if run through the dish machine.

                        My guests might not know the difference between wood and plastic but my knife surely will. Any mat will dull a knife edge and slip.

                        No thanks.

                        Cleaning any cutting surface with a dirty bacteria laden rag or sponge obviously is not a good idea.

                        Maple boards are not for display. There is a reason butcher blocks have been made from hard Maple for well over a hundred years and remain the first choice.


                        1. re: TraderJoe

                          I love my mapel end grain board. I like my other cheap plank style wood boards too. I don't have any plastic cutting boards. I don't know why, I just never thought I needed one, since I have several wood boards.

                          It gets wiped down with a dish rag that is washed and dried very often. I use dish rags to wipe tables and countertops. I seldom use sponges, because I don't feel like I can ever get them clean or completely get the soap out of them.
                          I do use sponges to clean things not related to food. Like the bathrooms, trucks and the horses. But not around food.

                          1. re: TraderJoe

                            I'm a firm believer in end grian wood cutting boards, my grandfather was a butcher and I grew up watching him cut meat on a large thick end grian maple butcher block. I can see the reasoning why one shouldn't cut meat on the same surface as one cuts things that aren't cooked. I suppose the disadvantage of wood boards in this situation is that a good end grain maple or other close grianed hard wood is both expensive and heavy to move around. Although we don't have a dedicated board for meat or veggies, we do have multiple boards and clean them well between uses. Certianly commercial establishments are faced with a different set of circumstances and regulations than a home cook. I haven't been in a butcher shop in so long, I have no idea if butchers are allowed to still use the old maple blocks they used for such a long time.

                            1. re: mikie

                              I have no idea if butchers are allowed to still use the old maple blocks they used for such a long time

                              Many can and still do but probably not so much in high volume operations. Both Boos and Michigan Maple Block still make the old fashioned 16" thick block tables.
                              Now those bad boys are H E A V Y!
                              For meat at home I prefer edge grain Maple as it absorbs less and it costs less.


                            2. re: TraderJoe

                              The Rösle cutting board mats I described are available in North America. You might want to see and try one.

                              The mats are grip texturned underneath, and the top layer does not allow a small knife, boning knife, or even a meat cleaver to slip on either the cutting board or in hand.

                              Having had a few wood cutting boards made for us over the years, I believe the wood grain stratigraphy on some boards can be suitable for display. Some are real works of art.

                        2. We recommend that restaurants change their boards every 6 months. After this we have found that there is usually too much embedded bacteria in the grooves of the boards to be hygienic. Signs of how to tell when to replace your boards include: if there is a lingering smell, if there is a lot of dark staining, if you would not want to lick your board. If you would not be happy to lick your board or serve food on it to guests then it ought to be changed. For more information on when to change your chopping boards and a guide to replacing them have a look at our website http://www.choppingboards.co.uk/pages...