Pretty sure I have about five million cutting boards: wooden, plastic, and this strange in-between-material Epicurean board (which I usually also buy for housewarming presents—other then me, seems like everybody could use a new cutting board). I have a vague recollection from The Moosewood Cookbook that one board should be set aside for smelly things like onions and garlic, to avoid any unfortunate crossover the next time you slice fruit or chop chocolate. And I have a steadily increasing bacteria-related phobia that made me use one of the plastic boards for raw beef and chicken, for fear that the wood would be more porous and hang on to some deadly E. coli or something.
Turns out, although the federal government used to agree with me about wooden cutting boards, Consumer Reports points out that “recent research… shows that a wood cutting board is no more likely than a plastic one to harbor harmful bacteria.” To that end, CR also recommends dousing your cutting boards frequently with a bleach solution to sanitize, which I definitely have not been doing.
But the most interesting part of the CR piece points out that just having my little stinky cutting board isn’t really enough. Sana Mujahid, manager of food-safety research at CR, advises, “Have one board for raw meat, fish, and poultry. Have a separate board for bread, fruits, and vegetables.” My colleague Kate Bernot points out that at her local food bank, volunteer food-sorters even have a special cutting board surface to place whole, uncooked eggs on (read this for more context about whether you should refrigerate eggs). I think that’s a good idea, since I’m not so keen on putting raw eggs on my counter. And I have basically just been throwing things around my tiny kitchen every which way. Who knows where that raw chicken will end up?
So the next time I organize my kitchen, I will definitely be organizing my cutting boards into categories: stinky for onions and garlic, fruits/vegetables, eggs, and raw meat. And as old habits die hard, that last one will probably be plastic.