Which kind of cutting board is the safest?

Fran McGinty's question about black mold on a wooden cutting board had me start to wonder if wood or plastic is safer as a cutting board? I have heard both sides argued. What does Food52 say?

  • Posted by: SKK
  • March 27, 2011


phyllis March 28, 2011
I, too, have had an Epicurean board for quite awhile. It's held up well, and I put it in the dishwasher. I also use other plastic ones, which I replace every 5-6 years. Wood makes me nervous, because I feel I can't clean those as well, especially after cutting raw meat or chicken. Dishwasher cleaning makes me feel safer.
pierino March 28, 2011
I do own one Epicurean board (a gift) and I'm not a terribly big fan. They are hard, but they also abuse your knives. Myself, I'll stick with a well maintained wood board. I kind of like Chinese ironwood blocks which are heavy (don't slide around) and inexpensive. When using a plastic board it's a good idea to place a kitchen towel on the countertop underneath for stability.
healthierkitchen March 28, 2011
I have had one of my Epicureans for probably close to 10 years and it's still fine. I did buy a larger one more recently as well. But, seriously, if you have a Home Goods nearby, I've seen them there many times at a good discount!
susan G. March 28, 2011
HK, thanks for introducing me to the Epicurean cutting boards. Very appealing! I primarily use a pieced board made of teak, 14 x 17". It was intended as a table top, but we turned it over, so the leg grooves are channels for clearing scraps and crumbs. In the nearly 40 years we've had it, it has held up beautifully, cleans easily, and has small legs so there is no condensation underneath (since it stays on the counter). I also use a small plastic board from Cutco, handy because it goes wherever I have work space, then carry it to the stove or bowl. It has all the drawbacks mentioned before, so replacing that with a new Epicurean board is on the 'wish list!'
healthierkitchen March 28, 2011
I use those boards by Epicurean. Not sure exactly whether to call them composite or pressed wood. They are supposed to be gentler on your knives than plastic and certainly glass, can go in dishwasher, don't get deep knife marks in the surface, etc. I've seen them at Sur la Table, but also at Home Goods and it seems, on Amazon.
drbabs March 28, 2011
I've read all the research, too, and I actually also agree with Sam1148, which means I use plastic because I can throw it into the dishwasher. I'd like to add, in case you were thinking of it, that one of my pet peeves is glass cutting boards. They ruin your knives.
innoabrd March 28, 2011
Read an interesting bit of research out of UC Davis that discussed wood vs plastic. Apparently, one advantage of wood is that the grooves and ruts close up (expansion of the wood fibres with humidity, I assume; in furniture restoration, if you have a dent in wood, you can often steam it out) vs plastic where the ruts and grooves stay put and that's where nasty stuff grows. Mind you, if you don't treat laminated wood board properly, you can open up some serious cracks and that ain't good. I actually agree with Sam1148, whatever you decide to use, keep it clean. a dishwasher run every now and again for a plastic board, or a bit of a bleach wash every now and again. If you just cut a raw chicken on a board, get a clean board out before you start cutting your salad. bits like that make all the difference. FWIW, I prefer plastic Just holds up better for me. I have some nice Kitchen Aid boards I bought sometime ago at Costco. White plastic with rubberized ends so they are inherently non-slip. If you have an ordinary plastic board, you need to put a damp towel underneath to keep it from slipping.

Voted the Best Reply!

boulangere March 27, 2011
Health departments will want you to use plastic for commercial applications (restaurants), but research will reveal that wood is actually less prone to bacterial infiltration. And when you ask a health department about the dilemma, they'll say that plastic is their story and they're sticking to it. Plastic cutting boards are in fact MUCH more prone to molds than wood. Plastic develops ruts over repeated use. Over time, and not much of it, you'll see black streaks on plastic boards. That's mold, and the only way to get rid of it is to scrub the living daylights out of it with a bleach solution. Wood rarely develops such molds, and when it does, it is pretty easily dealt with. Hope this helps.
Sam1148 March 27, 2011
Well, I'll get piled on here. But basically a clean one. I'm not a pro-cook. But just cleaning the board works well. Plastic can go in the dishwasher..wood is a better on knives.

I think we're a bit too over worried about somethings these days.
Recommended by Food52