Are Wood Cutting Boards Safer Than Plastic?

You might be surprised to learn that wood cutting boards have actually been proven safer in most scientific tests that have been conducted. UC-Davis published a study comparing bacterial contamination on wood and plastic surfaces. 

...wooden cutting boards are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be.

Studies have also shown that wood can be more sanitary in the long run, though many people assume that plastic is more resistant to bacteria. 

According to Rodale News, expert Dean O. Cliver, PhD from University of California, Davis, conducted research on the subject and found that wood cutting boards contained less salmonella bacteria than plastic. On wood cutting boards, the bacteria sank “down beneath the surface of the cutting board, where they didn’t multiply and eventually died off.”

On plastic cutting boards, bacteria gets caught in the knife grooves and is nearly impossible to remove by hand or in a dishwasher. Plastic boards should be replaced once they become excessively worn or develop grooves that are hard to clean. 

“Hardwoods, like maple, are fine-grained, and the capillary action of those grains pulls down fluid, trapping the bacteria – which are killed off as the board dries after cleaning,” says Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State. “Soft woods, like cypress, are less likely to dull the edge of your knife, but also pose a greater food safety risk,” Chapman explains. “That’s because they have larger grains, which allows the wood to split apart more easily, forming grooves where bacteria can thrive.” Chapman recommends using plastic cutting boards for meat and wood cutting boards for fruit, vegetables, or any ready-to-eat foods (like bread or cheese).

Since both wood and plastic are prone to bacteria if not properly cared for or replaced (yes plastic, we are talking to you), the decision returns to preference and longevity.


The Advantage of Roasted Maple Cutting Boards over Plastic Ones

  • Maple cutting boards won't scar as easily as plastic since maple is a hardwood.
  • You won't have to replace your wooden cutting board regularly if cared for properly
  • Your knives will last longer because hardwood boards won't dull your blades as quickly as plastic will. 
  • Your won't want to hide your cutting boards because wooden boards, even well used ones, add warmth and beauty to your kitchen.

Whether you use wood or plastic, the best method for ensuring safety is to use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, vegetables and fruit, and prepared food. This limits cross-contamination, which is the biggest danger of all.