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Healthy in the kitchen, cutting boards and the risk of contamination

Healthy in the kitchen, cutting boards and the risk of contamination

August 18, 2019
Pros and cons of cutting boards made of wood, plastic and glass and possible contamination of bacteria
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We can love or hate cooking, we can be great cooks or go in the kitchen only if forced, in any case, whether we prepare delicacies or a quick salad, there is a tool we can't do without, the cutting board. The cutting board avoids dirtying other surfaces, it is practical, it can be washed quickly but ... there is a but. In fact, the cutting board is linked to the risk of proliferation of bacteria which can then contaminate other foods and be ingested. However, this depends on the material of the cutting board, let's try to understand better.

Cutting boards, it is better wood, plastic or glass?

There is a study, published a few months ago (Dantas et al, Foodborne Pathog Dis., Feb 2018), that analyzed the possible contamination, through wood, plastic and glass cutting boards, of food by bacteria belonging to the Salmonella species. These bacteria can come into contact with the cutting board when, for example, you work with poultry or other raw meat. In the study in question the cutting boards were well washed and only at this point the presence of salmonella bacteria was studied. Well, these bacteria were able to survive almost completely in the wood cutting board thanks to the fact that they had formed a biofilm (in about 60% of the cutting boards studied) on the surface by adhering to the material. This phenomenon was recorded to a lesser extent in the plastic cutting board, 40%, and was almost absent, about 10%, in the glass cutting board. In general, the wooden cutting boards are porous and for this reason the bacteria penetrate easily, remaining active for hours with the risk of contaminating other foods (Cliver et al, J AOAC Int, 2006). Therefore, according to this research, it emerges that the wooden cutting boards, while they are aesthetically beautiful, are more risky as regards possible contamination by bacteria. Obviously they can be used, also because they are sold quite everywhere, but they should be treated more carefully than surfaces of other materials. After being used, in fact, they have to be cleaned very carefully with water, vinegar and baking soda and then dried well in the sun or on a radiator. Absolutely safer are glass cutting boards, where bacteria can hardly take root, but these are more delicate and can break more easily. Plastic, and therefore polyethylene for food use, is generally a good compromise, but in any case maintenance should never be forgotten. In fact, plastic cutting boards should always be washed, as the food residues and bacteria can nestle into the score-marks left by the knife. However, these cutting boards can be washed in the dishwasher where the bacteria are inactivated at a temperature of 70°C. However, when a plastic cutting board starts to be too ruined, this treatment may not be enough, so plastic cutting boards should be changed often. Finally, a good choice could be to have more cutting boards and differentiate their use, so, for example, a cutting board dedicated to meat and one to fruit and vegetables.

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