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Wood vs Plastic Cutting Boards: A Quick Guide by Premier Food Choice

The debate has been on for a long time. If you’re not in on the news, there’s a whole conversation on what the best cutting board material is. Is it wood or plastic?


While there are several advocates for each side with equally convincing arguments to bring to the kitchen table, we’re here to help you settle the score.



WOOD VS PLASTIC: THE LOWDOWN


For a long time, cutting boards were made mostly out of wood. Then at some point in time, people were pushed into using plastic cutting boards, which were perceived to be more hygienic and easier to clean.


But in the late 1980s, microbiologist Dean Cliver – the de facto godfather of cutting board safety – investigated the safety of plastic cutting boards. We’ll save you from reading the entire research, but here’s the truth: it wasn’t as safe as people believed it was.


While plastic cutting boards are relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and space-efficient, and generally seem easier to clean and sanitize), cutting on them can leave grooves on the board where bacteria can hide.

On the other hand, while wooden blocks are heavier and could require more work to clean, they absorb the impact of knives, don’t dull them, and most importantly, don’t get too many deep scratches on their surface.


SO WHAT SHOULD BE IN MY KITCHEN?


While research shows that wooden cutting boards are generally still the better option, that doesn’t mean that you should discard your plastic cutting boards.


Here’s our recommendation:

  • Use a large wooden cutting board as your main cutting board. This should be a well-constructed end-grad cutting board. The best wooden boards are made out of maple or beech.

  • Use plastic cutting boards for quick and easy tasks like cutting up lemons.


In addition, it’s best to use separate cutting boards for raw meats so that the bacteria doesn’t transfer to other food items. In the same way, fruits and vegetables can also carry pathogens that can transfer to your cutting boards and meats. Food hygiene and safety is important and cross-contamination is something you should be wary of.


Lastly, whether it’s a wooden or plastic cutting board, once your board has accumulated several deep grooves from repeated use, replace it. Remember, the more grooves present, and the bigger they are, the more area is available for bacteria to grow.