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Chopping boards are among the most important pieces of equipment in the kitchen, whether that kitchen happens to be in a restaurant, food truck, café or the home. But it’s surprising then how many people seem to struggle with keeping them clean; is it safe to simply spray chopping boards with anti-bacterial cleaner and go? Or should we be popping our plastic boards in the dishwasher for a thoroughly good dousing every few hours?

Today we’re looking at the sharp end of chopping board hygiene, to help you keep your chopping boards thoroughly clean, maintained and organised.

The germy truth

Environmental Health officers have all kinds of rules and recommendations when it comes to use of chopping boards in catering, not least that you should use different coloured chopping boards for different types of food. Our chopping board buyer’s guide takes you through the suggested colour coded system, which helps prevent potentially dangerous cross-contamination in the kitchen, though the particular type of boards you use is a decision for you to make.

Here at Lockhart catering we sell both wooden and plastic chopping boards as we’re aware chefs tend to have their own preferences. Scientists have been examining the bacterium that builds on both types of materials for some time, trying to fathom which type of surface is better and there is research out there in favour of both.

If you feel like you’re a plastic boy or plastic girl, living in a plastic chopping board type of world, this study will support your sentiment and help your life in plastic and feel fantastic. But then there are studies that are firmly in favour of wooden chopping boards too. It really is a case of selecting your personal preference by considering what you as an individual will be able to use and maintain most easily in your kitchen, and committing to ensure that whatever type of chopping board you do use, you keep it clean.

In case you were in any doubt of the importance of keeping your chopping board clean, a survey commissioned by the Global Hygiene Council last year found that the average chopping board harbours 200 per cent more faecal bacteria than the average toilet seat. However, we’re pretty sure the chopping boards surveyed didn’t come from nice clean kitchens like yours!

Cleaning and caring for your board

Wooden and plastic boards need to be cleaned in different ways but there are some universal tips you can apply whatever type of board you use. Firstly, cleaning your board as quickly as possible after use will stop bacteria developing and antibacterial disinfectant in the form of sprays or wipes will help you keep on top of this.

In addition to cleaning after use, you’ll need to clean your boards at the end of the day ready for use the next day – it’s a good idea to make this part of your kitchen’s ‘close’ tasks list. You’ll also need to replace boards regularly, as cracks, chips and splits collect dirt and germs more easily. This makes them harder to clean and decreases the impact of your cleaning schedule.

Wooden boards that are submerged in water for cleaning can develop mildew and putting them in the dishwasher can cause warping from heat, so you’re more likely to choose to disinfect and dry. If you’re using a dishcloth alongside disinfectant, you will need to put it through a machine wash every night or replace with a new cloth.

On the other hand, plastic boards may be submerged or put into the dishwasher but should go through on a high temperature; you also shouldn’t rely on the dishwasher to kill germs. Make sure you rinse away food debris and disinfect the board before it goes in the dishwasher for extra peace of mind.

Air drying is always recommended over drying with a towel when more germs could potentially be transferred to your board, so if you do use a tea towel, be extra sure it’s fresh and clean. And, to ensure you’re not spreading bacteria yourself by handling the chopping board, stick to a vigorous hand washing routine.

Removing stains and smells from chopping boards

In a busy kitchen where chopping boards are used very frequently, they can develop stains and odours, giving the potential to transfer tastes as well as bacteria.

If you don’t fancy bleaching your boards to infinity and beyond - which won’t always rid you of said stains and smells, anyway - you can try out some combinations from nature. Lemon juice helps remove smells such as chopped onion and can be combined with salt or baking soda for extra stain-removing power.

Once your chopping boards are clean, fresh and looking their best, it’s important to store them in a way that keeps them so. Store your chopping boards in a way that makes it easy to adhere to your colour coding system, which may involve hanging your boards on wall hooks to ensure they’re kept clean and your kitchen is tidy.

Which chopping boards do you use in your kitchen – wooden or plastic? Do you have any cleaning rituals you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below or tweet at us using @BunzlLockhart.


Lockhart Catering on 26 March 2015 3:59 AM

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