As a retailer of knives you’ll be fortunate enough to access a whole other market too – the related products that go with knives.
Cutting boards are one of the primary products in the knife seller’s arsenal and are reliable sellers as knives and boards go together like peas and pods!
As there are a wealth of cutting board options available today, it’s important to offer your clientele products that are both good quality and that meet recommended hygiene and sanitation standards.
We’re going to examine the most popular types of cutting board, and how these perform hygiene wise, so that you can offer your customers the best products with confidence and peace of mind!
Let’s get cracking.
Wooden cutting boards
Wood being so varied, customers can choose a pattern, color or grain to suit their likes and kitchen décor.
Wooden cutting boards can be either one entire piece of wood, or segments of wood fitted together, and buyers can choose from boards made from end grain, edge grain or face grain wood or a composite of these.
End grain wood is regarded as the best quality and is therefore the priciest but wood in general offers something to suit every pocket as there are many different types of wood available.
Pros of wooden cutting boards
Wood cutting boards have loads to offer, so let’s look at some of their strengths:
- Many woods are inherently anti – bacterial. Bacteria are absorbed into a wooden cutting board and eliminated there, as shown in this study
- Wooden surfaces are kind to knife blades and won’t dull knife blades quickly
- Wood is readily available, easily sourced and gives a price range to fit a wide range of clientele
- Wood looks great and adds charm to its environment
- Wooden cutting boards are durable and will last decades if treated well
- Wood is customizable and techniques like carving or burning can create unique designs if this is desired
- Wood like cork, maple, and end grain cuts have ‘self – healing’ properties which means the cut surface rebounds/closes up after a cut and doesn’t show damage
Cons of wooden cutting boards
No cutting board material is perfect so let’s also examine the downsides of wood:
- Large cutting boards made from dense wood can be heavy and difficult to move around and store in a small space
- Wooden cutting boards need careful hand washing, they’re not dishwasher friendly
- Wood requires sanitization and monthly maintenance such as oiling with food grade mineral oil
Is a wooden cutting board sanitary?
Yes – as we’ve seen, wood can have anti–bacterial properties and because it’s absorbent on a capillary level, bacteria are eliminated quite quickly by contact with wood.
Every type of cutting surface will need to be sanitized though, especially after contact with high risk ingredients like raw chicken or meat. This is standard good food hygiene practice and needs to be strictly adhered to.
Bamboo cutting boards
Bamboo is a ‘cheap and cheerful’ grass that’s very plentiful and easy to obtain. For this reason, bamboo cutting boards are relatively cheap.
As with wood, bamboo is quite varied and the products available today offer different colors and looks to suit a discerning customer.
Bamboo is durable, being harder than some woods, but also very light.
Bamboo cutting boards can be one piece of bamboo or multiple pieces fused together, but due to a fibrous texture it’s recommended to offer bamboo cutting boards of one whole piece of bamboo or a bamboo board cut from the end grain.
Let’s look at some good things about bamboo cutting boards.
Pros of bamboo cutting boards
- Lightweight means easy to lift and move around. This is a key concern for users with mobility or joint issues
- Looks very attractive
- Eco – friendly, being biodegradable and sustainable
- Bamboo is hard and tough, giving durability
- Bamboo contains lignin, a natural plastic which is anti – microbial. This ups the hygiene of bamboo, but it must be kept dry between uses and sanitized regularly as with wood
Cons of bamboo cutting boards
- Bamboo is prone to moisture damage so if it’s not kept dry it’ll warp and split
- Bamboo cutting boards are handwash only, no dishwasher!
- Because bamboo is so hard, it will dull knife blades quicker than wood will
- Bamboo needs maintenance (oiling) monthly to keep it in top shape
- Regular sanitization is also required to keep a safe and food – friendly cutting surface
- Some bamboo cutting boards could be held together with glues or treated with formaldehyde. These harmful substances can leech into food
- Bamboo has a fibrous texture, and these hairs and splinters can transfer to food
Is a bamboo cutting board sanitary?
Bamboo has some anti – microbial properties but it will still absorb juices from food. If used for raw meat this is a concern.
Bamboo boards should be used exclusively for non – flesh ingredients like vegetables and sanitized after use to maintain optimal kitchen hygiene.
Plastic cutting boards
Plastic cutting boards are an easy clean option and see a lot of use in professional kitchens as they can be color coded easily to avoid cross-contamination.
Let’s see how they stack up against the competition!
Pros of plastic cutting boards
- Lightweight and easy to move and carry around
- Can be differentiated by color to avoid cross – contamination
- The thin ones can be rolled for space – saving storage
- Dishwasher friendly
- Not expensive
Now for the downsides:
Cons of plastic cutting boards
- Some plastics aren’t the best surface for keeping knife blades in good nick
- Ecologically unfriendly
- Can contain harmful plasticizers like bisphenol
- Although non – porous, a plastic surface will accumulate bacteria in the cuts on the board, making them unsanitary
- A plastic cutting board will suffer cut damage and will have to be replaced
- Plastic is not inherently anti – bacterial so offers no protection against germs
Is a plastic cutting board sanitary?
No. Germs ‘sit’ on plastic and although they’re easily washed/sanitized, the surface itself can harbor germ growth, especially in the cut marks.
Especially where raw meats are being cut, this is a health concern for illnesses like botulism poisoning.
Rubber cutting boards
Rubber cutting boards are mostly used by pro kitchens as they do offer benefits where lots of food is prepped daily.
They’re a sturdy and attractive choice and offer good food hygiene for establishments that have to uphold food sanitation laws and ‘best practice’ in the professional kitchen setting.
Pros of rubber cutting boards
- Non – porous so won’t absorb bacteria
- Gentle on knife blades
- Can be resurfaced/sanded to remove cut marks where bacteria would otherwise grow
- Almost no maintenance needed
Cons of rubber cutting boards
- If made of thick rubber, they can be cumbersome and difficult to shift around
- If a rubber cutting board doesn’t have a wooden/firm core material, it can bend and warp over time
- Not dishwasher friendly
Is a rubber cutting board sanitary?
Yes. The non – porous surface offers nowhere for germs to reproduce, and a rubber surface doesn’t absorb liquids either. That being said, EVERY cutting surface in a kitchen should be sanitized as a matter of course.
General tips for keeping cutting boards sanitary
These guidelines will be of great use to your customers and indeed to anyone who uses cutting boards!
- A board that is easy to clean is more likely to be cleaned
- Avoid prolonged exposure to moisture and water as these can both damage a cutting board and provide a breeding environment for germs
- Sanitize the tools used to clean cutting boards, these get dirty too!
- Cutting boards should be cleaned immediately after use
- The cutting board used for raw meat is ONLY ever used for raw meat and never used for other food prep, it is also sanitized thoroughly after each use
Why is selling sanitary cutting boards so important?
Every business/supplier fosters a relationship of trust with their clientele and your customers should always regard you as being trustworthy and cognizant of their health and welfare.
In most countries, food hygiene standards are rigorously applied and breaches of these can cause legal woes, prosecution, and indeed the closure of businesses that do not conform.
As a professional and knowledgeable knife seller, it’s critical to your success that customers have faith in your ability to provide products that do no harm.
Morally, selling a product that is known to harm the consumer is wrong and cannot be tolerated in the professional sales arena as a bad reputation is easily earned but so hard to lose!
At LeeKnives we support and encourage all knife retailers to educate themselves about ‘best practice’ kitchen methodology, and sanitation and hygiene for all kitchen equipment are the cornerstones of that ethos.
We’ve looked at some fabulous cutting board materials in this article, some more sanitary than others.
It’s up to you as a knife products retailer to choose a cutting board material for your products that appeals to customer taste and fosters healthy hygiene practices.
We’re sold on wooden cutting boards, as they tick many boxes and with a bit of work offer a high level of hygiene maintenance.