The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Best cutting board for meat?

new cutting board
After soaking our wood cutting board in bleach water I decided we needed a second cutting board.

What's the best cutting board for meat?

We'll drive this one around the block a few times and report back on how useful the juice groove is and if it makes the cut.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi Anna and Mark,

You are probably aware that "bacteria" disappear on wood surfaces quickly?

This is NOT true of man-made surfaces (plastic).

I forget where I first read this, but the author commented that most folks would probably continue to use plastic dispite the clear risk.

The implication was that bleach with wood was not needed ???? Maybe?? And that bleach with plastic wasn't very good!

How to measure it and tell for sure?

If you search you will probably know much more than I remember pretty quickly!

warm regards to you both, John

Comment by John Sun Nov 24 13:25:28 2013
butchers use wood blocks and don't seem to have a problem with contamination. my gran did too. after cutting up the meat she would use a damp rag to wipe it down and then rub it with oil. the oiled surface would repel most liquids and if the meat was especially juicy she would rub a lemon on the board after wiping it down but before rubbing it with oil. rubbing the surface with salt will give it a pretty thorough cleaning, but you will need to treat it with oil to reseal it.
Comment by mizz Sun Nov 24 16:39:18 2013

Read about the research at UC Davis.

The conclusions:

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.

From the standpoint of hygiene, a glass cutting board would probably be best. Nothing much grows on glass. But it would play havoc with your knives.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Nov 24 19:28:07 2013

I also have read and heard that wood boards are the best since they are forgiving. A good hardwood board wiped well, or when using it for some meat washing it with soap and water and rinse well, is best. I have never had a problem with getting sick or any of my guests getting sick. As Anna knows. I feed a great many people over the course of a year! For several years now, people are so afraid of "germs" that they want everything sterilized. Many germs are beneficial and help ones immune system. When everything is sterilized, the body's immune system is put off balance.

So clean off the wood cutting board and do not use the plastic one. The wood one is better on your knives as well as your health.

Comment by Sheila Sun Nov 24 20:41:32 2013
I've always been under the assumption that lemon and salt would kill anything on a wood cutting board. Have you heard of the "farmstead meatsmith"? He's done interviews with Spirko and Wheaton, and he has some really interesting videos on butchery. From what he said, he always uses wood and never uses soap or chemicals. If I remember correctly, he talked about creating an environment on your cutting board that helps non-dangerous bacteria grow and disadvantages the dangerous ones, and then he said when he needs to clean them, he uses lemon, salt, and vinegar.
Comment by Stephen Mon Nov 25 09:18:18 2013

Here is a link to an article I wrote on this topic a few years ago. In this article is a link to an earlier one. The two, taken together, provide a good view of my position on the subject.

I am curious to learn why you decided to wash your wooden cutting board with bleach.

The more I learn, the more I think plastic is pretty much always evil. I am working hard to avoid it wherever possible.

Comment by Larry Eiss Mon Nov 25 16:53:50 2013

The salt solution makes a perfect environment for lactobacillus bacteria. (Same as lacto fermentation of pickles and saurkraut) Lactobacillus likes to eat all that bad stuff that can make us sick.

So... My vote is for a good hardwood cuttingboard.

Comment by Ryan Mon Nov 25 19:06:36 2013

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