Preventing Cross Contamination of Food
Bacteria or allergens can easily be transmitted from one part of the kitchen to another or from one food to another via knives, hands, or surfaces such as chopping boards. To reduce the chance of this it is advised to use separate boards for different types of food such as raw meat, cooked meat, dairy and vegetables. Many professional kitchens follow this standard colour-coding system.
- Blue cutting boards: raw fish.
- Red cutting boards: raw meat.
- Green cutting boards: salad and fruit.
- Yellow cutting boards: cooked meat.
- Brown cutting boards: vegetable.
- White cutting boards: dairy (also for universal if no other board is available.)
Care of Boards
Regardless of the material, regular maintenance of a cutting board is important. A very diluted bleach solution is best fordisinfecting cutting boards.To remove odors, the board can be rinsed and then rubbed with coarse salt and left to stand for several minutes before being wiped and rinsed clean. In a wooden board, this procedure will also smooth out minor imperfections on the surface.
Wooden boards should never be placed in the dishwasher, or left immersed for long periods, as the wood or glue may be affected. To prevent cracking, cutting boards can be treated when they start looking dry. A standard recommendation is 5-7 times a year, or as needed. A light food-grade mineral oil is a good preservative for wooden cutting boards, as it helps keep water from seeping into the grain. Alternatively, one may also use a food-grade drying oil such as poppyseed oil, tung oil orlinseed oil. The first two dry much faster than linseed. Most commercially available linseed and tung oils are not “food grade”, as they contain metallic driers. In general, edible savory vegetable or olive oils are not recommended because they tend to go rancid, causing the board to smell and food to pick up the rancid taste. When heavily or deeply scored, wooden boards need to be resurfaced as scoring can harbour bacteria. Boards can be easily resurfaced with various woodworking tools, such asscrapers or planes. Sandpaper is to be avoided, as it leaves in the surface residual abrasives which will dull knives.
Unlike wood, most plastic boards are non-porous, which means that bacteria can't enter below the surface. It is still equally as important to clean the boards thoroughly after each use as bacteria can lie and grow in any imperfections on the surface. Although many boards are dishwasher safe, both domestic and professional boards which are HDPE will be warped by the hot water, making them unsafe. When heavily or deeply scored, boards need to be resurfaced as scoring can harbour mildew and bacteria. However, resurfacing a plastic cutting board is quite difficult and replacing it is recommended instead.