Waco Woodworks Blog

Wood Cutting Boards versus Plastic. Which is best?

For a long time, cutting boards were primarily made of wood. At some point people began using plastic cutting boards. On the surface plastic cutting boards seem like a good idea, right?  They are easier to clean because you can just throw them in the dishwasher.  Properly cleaning a wood cutting board means washing by hand.  So it may be logical to think if plastic is easier to clean then it must be better to use from a food safety perspective. 

However in the late 1980's, Dean Cliver (a UC Davis researcher and the de facto godfather of cutting board food safety) decided to investigate whether plastic cutting boards really were safer. This conclusion was no, not really.

Cliver found that cutting on plastic cutting boards leaves lots of deep grooves where bacteria can hide. Wood is tougher to sanitize, but it’s also (often) tougher in general – you won’t find as many deep scratches in the surface.

Researchers also found that the type of wood your cutting board is made from makes a big difference.

“Hardwoods, like maple, are fine-grained, and the capillary action of those grains pulls down fluid, trapping the bacteria – which are killed off as the board dries after cleaning,” says Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State. “Soft woods, like cypress, are less likely to dull the edge of your knife, but also pose a greater food safety risk,” Chapman explains. “That’s because they have larger grains, which allows the wood to split apart more easily, forming grooves where bacteria can thrive.”

Waco Woodworks uses only hardwoods (primarily Black Walnut, Maple, Cherry, and Mesquite) for our handmade cutting boards.  We never use woods such as Cypress as you'll find a our competition uses. 

Source: https://news.ncsu.edu/2014/09/cutting-boards-food-safety/

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