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Cutting boards - How long to use, when to discard

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

I have a question on cutting boards. I have many HDPE type of plastic cutting boards (used these when I cut meat at IBP the summer between high school and college, so I figured they were good to use as they will not dull knives). I have had them for many years, and some of them have noticable knife marks in them. Some of them I can tell I have run a pizza wheel across them a bunch as they have a spoked wheel impression. What is a good guideline for cutting board lifespan, and when do they need to be discarded? Knife marks, bbq stains from rub / grease, age?
post #2 of 17
I would say when they get to the point when you can't clean them anymore...

If you need to replace them you can go to Regal Plastics over in North KC at 14th and Burlington and get cutoffs from their scrape pile and save a bunch It is new just odd sizes that you may have to trim if you want to or leave whatever size they have...

If you go in the dock area ask for Al and tell him Paul Clary that used to be with Diamondback sent you... You may get it free...
post #3 of 17
Mine all have lots of knife marks. I use a dishwasher so clean is not an issue, killed one by setting it on a hot burner. Otherwise I use most beat up ones for prep and newest for show like carving for guests.
post #4 of 17
Just wash them in a bleach/water solution for a few minutes that will kill anything. However high tech plastic boards are not that expensive. When I clean my plastic board they get a couple of squirts from a spray bottle with ammonia/water solution, then a scrub, then a scrub from hot soapy water, and I don't let them drain dry, I dry immediately with a clean towel then store.
post #5 of 17
Technically you don't have to trash them unless they become unusable.
If they begin to gather build up in the grooves from cutting that is hard to get out a stainless steel scrubby and some bleach based spray should make short work of it.
I have several plastic cutting boards but I don't normally use them, I prefer to go for wood mostly because of the amount of BPAs that can leech out of the plastic and into the food.
Not that it is a dangerous amount but with all the other things that can slightly increase the risk of cancer I try to do what I can to avoid soft plastics and things that come in tin cans.

Working in the restaurant industry they mostly all use the plastic boards.
red-raw beef
yellow-raw chicken
blue-cooked beef
green-seafood? or cooked chicken, I don't remember

Those cutting boards got lots of use and abuse and we didn't have to replace them more than every 3-4 years depending on if some genius set down a hot skillet on one or not.
post #6 of 17
I have many boards (at least 10) that we use with the 4H kids we teach to cook. I wash them all by hand and spray them with a kitchen sanitizer spray then let them dry and store. The kids are really rough on them with knife and pizza cutter marks and ravioli cutter marks. Some are at least 10 years old so I have no idea when they will need to go.
Maybe some of the chefs have an idea of life expectancy but my thought is as long as you sanitize them they will last a long time
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
I generally hit them with a clorox bleach type of sanitizer, and this also makes short work of stains. Then they go in the dishwasher after I have already cleaned them good. Just wanted to know if there was a generally accepted guideline or what rule food service / Chefs adhere to.
post #8 of 17

Good thread

Not something that I had thought about until you posted it, BBQ Eng. Learning something from all of the responses as I'm in the market for a new cutting board.
post #9 of 17
Here is something that everybody should read about cutting boards. Wood vs plastic has been extensively tested, and believe it or not wood is MUCH less likely to hold bacteria than plastic.

Give this a read, and form your own opinions.



Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D
We began our research comparing plastic and wooden cutting boards after the U.S. Department of Agriculture told us they had no scientific evidence to support their recommendation that plastic, rather than wooden cutting boards be used in home kitchens. Then and since, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Inspection Manual (official regulations) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 1999 Food Code (recommended regulations for restaurants and retail food sales in the various states of the U.S.) permit use of cutting boards made of maple or similar close-grained hardwood. They do not specifically authorize acceptable plastic materials, nor do they specify how plastic surfaces must be maintained.
Our research was first intended to develop means of disinfecting wooden cutting surfaces at home, so that they would be almost as safe as plastics. Our safety concern was that bacteria such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, which might contaminate a work surface when raw meat was being prepared, ought not remain on the surface to contaminate other foods that might be eaten without further cooking. We soon found that disease bacteria such as these were not recoverable from wooden surfaces in a short time after they were applied, unless very large numbers were used. New plastic surfaces allowed the bacteria to persist, but were easily cleaned and disinfected. However, wooden boards that had been used and had many knife cuts acted almost the same as new wood, whereas plastic surfaces that were knife-scarred were impossible to clean and disinfect manually, especially when food residues such as chicken fat were present. Scanning electron micrographs revealed highly significant damage to plastic surfaces from knife cuts.
Although the bacteria that have disappeared from the wood surfaces are found alive inside the wood for some time after application, they evidently do not multiply, and they gradually die. They can be detected only by splitting or gouging the wood or by forcing water completely through from one surface to the other. If a sharp knife is used to cut into the work surfaces after used plastic or wood has been contaminated with bacteria and cleaned manually, more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface.
"Manual cleaning" in our experiments has been done with a sponge, hot tapwater, and liquid dishwashing detergent. Mechanical cleaning with a dishwashing machine can be done successfully with plastic surfaces (even if knife-scarred) and wooden boards especially made for this. Wooden boards, but not plastics, that are small enough to fit into a microwave oven can be disinfected rapidly, but care must be used to prevent overheating. Work surfaces that have been cleaned can be disinfected with bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solutions; this disinfection is reliable only if cleaning has been done successfully.
The experiments described have been conducted with more than 10 species of hardwoods and with 4 plastic polymers, as well as hard rubber. Because we found essentially no differences among the tested wood species, not all combinations of bacteria and wood were tested, nor were all combinations of bacteria and plastics or hard rubber. Bacteria tested, in addition to those named above, include Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus.
We believe that the experiments were designed to be properly representative of conditions in a home kitchen. They may or may not be applicable to other plastic and wooden food contact surfaces or to cutting boards in commercial food processing or food service operations, but we have no reason to believe that they are not relevant, except that not all plastic surfaces are subject to knife-scarring. Before our first studies had been published, they were criticized incorrectly for not having included used (knife-scarred) cutting surfaces. We had been careful to include used surfaces, and so were surprised that others who did later experiments and claimed to have refuted our findings often had used only new plastic and wood. Although some established scientific laboratories say their results differ from ours, we have received multiple communications from school children who have done science projects that have reached essentially the same conclusions that we did.
We have no commercial relationships to any company making cutting boards or other food preparation utensils. We have tested boards and cleaning and disinfection products, some of which were supplied to us gratis. We have not tested all of the products that have been sent to us, simply because there is not time. We are aware that there are other food preparation surfaces made of glass or of stainless steel; we have done very little with these because they are quite destructive of the sharp cutting edges of knives, and therefore introduce another class of hazard to the kitchen. We believe, on the basis of our published and to-be-published research, that food can be prepared safely on wooden cutting surfaces and that plastic cutting surfaces present some disadvantages that had been overlooked until we found them.
In addition to our laboratory research on this subject, we learned after arriving in California in June of 1995 that a case-control study of sporadic salmonellosis had been done in this region and included cutting boards among many risk factors assessed (Kass, P.H., et al., Disease determinants of sporadic salmonellosis in four northern California counties: a case control study of older children and adults. Ann. Epidemiol. 2:683-696, 1992.). The project had been conducted before our work began. It revealed that those using wooden cutting boards in their home kitchens were less than half as likely as average to contract salmonellosis (odds ratio 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.22-0.81), those using synthetic (plastic or glass) cutting boards were about twice as likely as average to contract salmonellosis (O.R. 1.99, C.I. 1.03-3.85); and the effect of cleaning the board regularly after preparing meat on it was not statistically significant (O.R. 1.20, C.I. 0.54-2.68). We know of no similar research that has been done anywhere, so we regard it as the best epidemiological evidence available to date that wooden cutting boards are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be.
Publications to date from our work:
Ak, N. O., D. O. Cliver, and C. W. Kaspar. 1994. Cutting boards of plastic and wood contaminated experimentally with bacteria. J. Food Protect. 57: 16-22.
Ak, N. O., D. O. Cliver, and C. W. Kaspar. 1994. Decontamination of plastic and wooden cutting boards for kitchen use. J. Food Protect. 57: 23-30,36.
Galluzzo, L., and D. O. Cliver. 1996. Cutting boards and bacteria--oak vs. Salmonella. Dairy, Food Environ. Sanit. 16: 290-293.
Park, P. K., and D. O. Cliver. 1996. Disinfection of household cutting boards with a microwave oven. J. Food. Protect. 59: 1049-1054.
Park, P. K., and D. O. Cliver. 1997. Cutting boards up close. Food Quality 3(Issue 22, June-July): 57-59.Others are in preparation.

Back to Current Research
post #10 of 17

Sorry, I couldn't resist

But in all seriousness if you have deep cuts in it then that is a place for germs and bacteria to hide and escape from deep cleaning.

They really are not that expensive (not that I can talk for anyone else's budget, that's not what I mean) What I mean is compaired to some of the other tools and accesories we have to buy for this hobby, a NEW SAFE cutting board is not that bad.
post #11 of 17
if boards are not able to be cleaned and sanitized toss them. i have sanded them down before......never ran them through a planer but i don't see why ya couldn't.
remember that cleaning is not sanitizing and vise versa.
post #12 of 17
bump to first page
post #13 of 17
I just received a brand new carving board yesterday from this company.

The company is local here and a friend of my sons works for them operating one of their cnc machines. A few months ago he hooked me up with a set of their modular cutting boards. They are VERY top shelf.
I suggest you check them out if you are looking for good quality cutting boards.

As far as care and maintenance I follow the instructions on their web site which is basically run them through the diswasher, dry and store on end.
I expect these boards will outlast my lifetime they are that good.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
After reading Hoser's post ( PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif), I am more curious than ever about which is better and how to clean and care for them. I found some examination of the pro's / con's of each, and also found out that the FDA recommends the plastic ones for commercial food service?? (as indicated by this website).


I have always liked the plastic ones since I can hit them with some bleach to disinfect...at least it made me feel better about them, and then into the dishwasher. I don't think you can do that with wooden ones.
post #15 of 17
post #16 of 17
I'm a wood nut. I like it for everything from cutting boards to differant furniture. I have been making stuff all my life. After a quick debate I decided to stick with my wood boards and I just sand and re-oil them on a regular basis so I will keep on doing what I do and keeps chopping on wood too. If you guys and girls have noticed in some of my pictures we have solid (2") maple butcher block counter tops in my kitchen.
post #17 of 17
Just for the sake of this discussion, I've tried sanding down some old scarred up plastic cutting boards. Not really worth the hassle. I keep them for butchering game and using in my hunting camp. I've also "read" that some wooden boards have a natural bacteriostatic nature to them. I've never been able to confirm that reliably though.
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