Cutting Boards

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Cooks Illustrated is a fantastic cooking magazine. Jen subscribed to it before I met her and now we fight over each new issue as it arrives. Their approach is to take a specific recipe and try different versions and have each version tasted by a group of people. They then write about the pros and cons of each version -- the finished product is always delicious and reading about the versions that didn't work as well provide a wonderful insight for other cooking experiments. They are not afraid to use applied science either -- the case of cutting boards:
The Truth About Cutting Boards and Bacteria
The Bac Story

In 1994, a research report was published that proved to be the opening salvo in a long battle over which material was more sanitary for cutting boards, wood or plastic. The researchers found that fewer bacteria could be recovered from wooden boards infected with live cultures than from plastic boards treated the same way. These results caused the researchers to question the prevailing view that plastic was more sanitary than wood; some have further interpreted the data to mean that wood is, in fact, a safer material for cutting boards. In a report that followed, researchers at a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) lab concluded that beef bacteria on polyethylene and wooden cutting boards had statistically similar patterns of attachment and removal. Even so, the idea that wood is more sanitary than plastic persists and was recently reaffirmed in the food section of the New York Times.
The upshot is that they are both about the same -- able to retain bacteria for a long time. Hot soapy water does wonders for getting rid of most bacteria and a regular application of dilute bleach (or a sanitizing wipe) will guarantee sanitation. The article doesn't mention this but running the board through your dishwasher will also guarantee sanitation.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on January 17, 2006 7:45 PM.

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