Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cutting Board Health & Safety

In college my roommate called me a "total nut" for engaging in this behavior (but indulged me and followed the rules), and in grad school my roommate flat out refused to follow my rules for this (yeah...we didn't last too long). Yes, I'm talking about my rules for cutting boards. If you've looked through some of my recipes, you may have noticed different cutting boards. In fact, here are my different cutting boards:

Blue: Fruits & Veggies
White: Cooked Meat
Red: Raw Meat

Why do I do this? You see, when we cut food up, we create cuts on the board that are perfect for a plethora of bacteria to hide. It's hard to clean these groves out well, which can lead to cross contamination. And let's be honest. None of us would rub raw chicken on our veggies before we eat them (at least I hope you wouldn't!). Because I don't want meat bacteria on my veggies that won't be cooked, I choose to keep those foods on separate boards. Make sense, doesn't it?

After cutting my raw meat, I don't just throw the board in the dishwasher either. In a pan I bring water up to a boil, and dump that over the board and let it soak in for a bit. This helps to kill some of the bacteria in the hard to reach places. After that I either hand wash the boards or stick them in the dishwasher. While that sounds a little tedious in the moment, I remind myself that the little bit of extra time now is better then days of feeling sick from food poisoning. 

Now it's your turn:
What are your cutting board habits? Have you ever lived with a roommate who had one set of rules, but you chose not to follow them why they weren't around?


  1. This is the kind of typically american obsession over bacteria I just don't get. It makes sense to have that kind of rules in commercial kitchens, and then they also have: hair nets, gloves, sometimes masks, stainless countertops, shelves and appliances, ceramic tiles floors and walls, and nasty chemical products. Like bleach, which is what you should be using to disinfect your cutting boards anyway (there is a special "kitchen-grade" variety for that). And they literally spend hours cleaning everything everyday.

    But this is your home. You are probably preparing meals with your bare hands. I don't even want to think of how you usually clean your counter, sink and faucet. Maybe you went back to cooking after having to touch a phone or a computer keyboard or a TV remote, and you skipped washing hands. Maybe you keep pets (or worse: children!) inside your house and allow them in your kitchen. The raw food itself is not sterile anyway.

    And it's fine. You are still pretty likely to survive that meal.

    Suggestion? Less cutting board washing rituals (rinse + dishwasher is fine), more focus on washing hands and keeping them clean when cooking (and think about cross-contamination there too).

  2. Ewww, you've discovered one of my big weaknesses. I really should work on this.

  3. @Anonymous- This post was only meant to discuss one aspect of how I keep my kitchen clean. There are posts I could write to discuss each of the things you've brought up, which are excellent points, and which I regularly do. Of course none of us is perfect, but there are ways to cut back on some of the harmful things we come into contact with every day. Of course we easily cross contaminate without thinking, which is why I like to bring awareness to different things that many of us don't think about. Thanks for your suggestion on bringing awareness to some of the hand cleanliness. I think I'll do a post on that as well!

    @Amy - This is one aspect of home cleanliness we don't always think about. I'm certainly not perfect at it, nor is any other person out there. It's all a process and a journey that we are each on. Take baby steps:) Good luck!