on Feb. 15, 2007
Now here's a topic that's always on my mind in the kitchen. The debate was once again sparked the other day.
Tony Ng from Melbourne sent me a letter:
"My chef friends and I have been arguing over what is safer to use wooden or plastic cutting boards. What do you use, Kurma?"
Hello Tony! I always use wooden cutting boards. I detest plastic. I searched my old files and found a news item from 10 years ago. Then I looked up the topic on the internet. It seems that there has been a debate for quite a while over this, but the plastics lobby seems to have won.
Ten years ago research leaned towards wood. In essence, it was found that over , whereas the bacteria actually multiplied on the plastic boards.
For the tests, researchers purposely contaminated wood and plastic boards with common bacteria that cause food poisoning - salmonella, listeria, and Escherichia coli.
They tested boards made from seven types of wood and four types of plastic, and at different temperatures and humidity levels.
Although their premise had always been that plastic was safer, to their astonishment they discovered that over 99% of all the bacteria on the wooden boards disappeared after only three minutes. In the same time, none of the bacteria on the plastic boards disappeared.
Over the years of teaching and cooking in professional kitchens around the world I have noticed that now-almost exclusively-plastic boards are used. Many powerful chemical cleaning products are on tap, and I can't help wondering if the plastic and chemical companies have finally been successful in convincing the kitchen managements in their favor.
These days, if you look this topic up on the Internet, off-the-record personal opinions still seem to quietly favor wood, but big movers and shakers like the US Food and Drug Administration have wooed many around the world back to plastic. But I am not convinced, and will never use plastic as my board of choice.