Cutting Board Hygiene and Food Safety Practices in 2023
No matter who you are, what you do, or where you're from, it's safe to say that almost everyone enjoys a good meal. Whether you're into fancy food that involves top-notch techniques or comfort food that is filling and delicious, there's just nothing quite like a good meal when you're hungry.
If you're the main cook in your household, the one thing that always needs to be considered is hygiene and food safety. It may sound mundane, but trust me when I say that food hygiene and safety is more of a risk than you may think.
You may be surprised to hear that one of the main culprits for these kinds of issues is cutting boards. But we can't just stop using cutting boards – nor do we want to!
Luckily, there are many precautions that we can take to reduce the risks all around, ensuring that not only is the cooking experience fun, but it’s safe too. Perfect!
With that in mind, we're going to start by telling you all about the risks that are involved in the incorrect or careless use of cutting boards. There are different types of cutting boards, but when it comes to hygiene and food safety practices, most of this information applies to every type. chef-knives Then, we'll move onto the practical side of things – that is, what you can do to mitigate those risks, whether it's in your kitchen at home or a restaurant where you work.
And, with that, you'll be ready to head straight into the kitchen equipped with all the knowledge you need to be able to use a cutting board safely and hygienically – something you may never have considered before.
So, without further ado, let's dive right in!
Risks Involved in the Incorrect Use of Cutting Boards
Before we start talking about the details of why cutting boards can be risky in terms of safety and hygiene, it's important to note different types of boards (that is, cutting boards made from different materials) pose different risks.
Indeed, some may be more prone to certain things than others. Thus, these things are important to bear in mind when you’re shopping for a new cutting boards for your kitchen!
As we've mentioned, the two main categories of risk to consider when it comes to cutting boards are hygiene and safety. Let's start with hygiene.
Hygiene Risks Involved in the Incorrect Use of a Cutting Board
Hygiene is of the utmost importance whenever you're in the kitchen – whether you're cooking for a big group of people or just yourself. Now, if you aren't taking good care of your cooking equipment and maintaining it properly, you will be putting yourself and others at risk of some serious health problems.
Build Up of Bacteria
Generally speaking, you can get rid of any bacteria build-up on a cutting board by simply giving it a good wash as you would when you do the dishes.
However, the problem with some cutting boards (especially those that leave knife scratches, like plastic) is that bacteria sits not only on the board's flat surface but in the grooves too. Thus, you may have bacteria developing within knife scratch marks because they're difficult to clean properly.
Thus, what can happen is that these little crevices harbor harmful bacteria that are tough to clean, and it ends up multiplying and contaminating all food that it comes into contact with.
Cross-Contamination of Bacteria Between Food Types
If you aren't cleaning your cutting boards properly, even if there aren't scratches or other crevices, they can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Then, if you use the same cutting board for everything (that is, different food types – meat as well as fresh food), you can end up with cross-contamination – bacteria from raw meat and poultry can end up transferring to other foods, which increases the risk of foodborne illnesses.
For some types of boards, washing with a sponge and soapy water may be enough. However, boards made from other materials – such as wood, for instance – may need more extensive care. Wood requires oiling to prevent bacteria from building up in crevices. So, make sure you know how to properly care for whatever type you have.
It really all comes down to looking after your cutting board properly - if you treat it properly, you can extend its life significantly. damascus-utility-knife You can do this by oiling you're cutting board (as we've mentioned), and even resurfacing it. Wooden cutting boards are excellent, as long as they're well taken care of!
Tips for Avoiding Hygiene Issues with Cutting Boards
If you'd like to avoid facing these hygiene issues with your cutting boards, here are some tips.
- Designate specific boards for specific purposes. It may sound like a hassle, but it's worth it. Have separate boards for meats, poultry, seafood, and fresh produce. That way, you won't risk cross-contamination.
- Clean your cutting boards with hot, soapy water and wash them straight away – don't leave them sitting around.
- Replace cutting boards that are heavily worn or deeply scratched.
- Make sure you dry off your cutting boards properly after washing. Don't ever pack a cutting board away while it's still damp, and store your boards in a dry place.
Safety Risks Involved in Poor Use of Cutting Boards
Naturally, when you're using a cutting board, it's going to be because you're cutting something – it's kind of in the name. Thus, whenever you're handling a sharp object, it's super important that you're careful and take all the necessary precautions – it's simply not worth being careless.
Here are some things you may risk if you don't take the proper safety precautions.
Number one, for obvious reasons, is that you risk cutting yourself. If you want to cook properly, you're going to want to use a nice, sharp knife, but sharp knives can be dangerous. Make sure that you're using the right techniques and that you're aware of what the surface of your board is like. For instance, a glass cutting boards can be a little slippery on the surface. And, you don't want to come down too hard on a glass board. So, make sure you're aware of things like this.
Stability and Slipping of the Board
When you're chopping something up on a cutting board on your countertop, the board may slip out from under your hands if it's not properly secured. This can lead to you cutting your fingers or even dropping your knife which may have dire consequences.
Another thing to consider, in addition to how slippery it is, is how heavy your board is. Sometimes, a heavy board can be better, depending on what kind of food and knife you’re working with.
Splinters and Foreign Objects
If a board is old or not well maintained, you run the risk (albeit a small risk) of ending up getting splinters in your fingers (as the chef). Or, even though it's unlikely, it's even possible that you could end up with splinters in the food, depending on how you're working.
The other risk is having larger pieces of the board coming apart and mixing with the food. This is, for obvious reasons, something you want to avoid at all costs.
Top Tips for Avoiding Safety Issues When Using a Cutting Board
Now that we've looked at the main safety risks involved in using a cutting board, what can you do to mitigate these risks?
- Make sure you're using a knife with a comfortable handle that is the right size for your hand. Also, use proper chopping techniques.
- Ensure that your cutting boards is stable and won't slip. Some boards are actually non-slip (especially rubber boards), but if you're concerned, place a damp cloth underneath it – that should help keep it still. Always test the board before you start chopping.
- Avoid cutting things that are too hard (like bones or things that are completely frozen). This can damage your board and your knife, and it poses a fairly severe safety risk when it comes to cutting yourself.
- Always keep your cutting board clean and well looked after so that it's not slippery.
Final Thoughts on Cutting Board Hygiene and Food Safety Practices in 2023
There you have it – the top hygiene and safety risks involved in using cutting boards in 2023, along with tips for avoiding them and staying safe.
Cooking may not seem like an inherently dangerous thing to do, but just like anything, it comes with its risks.
Luckily, they're fairly easy to avoid and there's really no reason why you need to be concerned about health or safety issues if you're aware of all these things and you look after yourself and your equipment (namely, your cutting boards!).