Are Plastic Cutting Boards Safe to Use?

As long as they’re sanitized adequately, plastic cutting boards are safe to use. They come in a wide range of colors and shapes to suit everyone’s needs and preferences.

Plastic cutting boards are a popular choice for different kitchens, mostly for being budget-friendly, easy to clean, and versatile.

If your go-to cutting boards are plastic ones, it’s best to opt for color-coding or having one plastic board to use with meat and another one to use with fresh produce.

This is to maximize safety and prevent food cross-contamination.

As time goes by, they can develop indentations from the blades and if not properly cleaned, they can become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

When you use these boards the right way and clean them properly, but also stop using them when they become too damaged, optimal safety in the kitchen is guaranteed.

Are Plastic Cutting Boards Safe to Use?

The USDA notes that plastic and wood cutting boards are food-safe as long as they are cleaned after every use and replaced often.

With adequate cleaning, plastic cutting boards are safe to use. When the right steps such as sanitization and cleaning after every use are taken, a plastic cutting board isn’t an issue.

However, as time goes by, you need to clean more thoroughly the crevices created by blades since if they’re too deep, they can become the ideal area for bacteria to thrive.

Despite not being a porous material such as wood, the scars from frequent use require better cleaning to ensure safety as they’re regularly used with food.

Unlike wood which has certain properties of self-healing, plastic doesn’t have this capacity so it’s best to replace it when there are too many deep grooves.

When you notice your plastic board has developed too many scars, it’s a sign to get a new one.

The good news is that many plastic cutting boards are sold in sets and come in various colors. In this way, you can designate each color for different food and thus, lower the risk of cross-contamination.

Although you can designate the colors at your own preference, these are the most common assignments that are easy to remember:

  • Red for raw meat
  • Orange for fish and seafood
  • Yellow for chicken
  • Green for veggies and fruits
  • Blue for cooked food

Why Does a Plastic Cutting Board Deserve a Spot in Your Kitchen?

  • Easier to clean

A plastic cutting board is less demanding in terms of cleaning than a wooden one due to requiring only warm water and soap, without any need for oiling.

A plastic cutting board doesn’t require drying in a particular position; in fact, you can just wipe it with a towel and it’s ready for the next use or storing.

This is also beneficial when you don’t have several boards to use with different foods and you’re looking to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

  • Ideal for raw meat and fish

This is your go-to board for prepping raw meat or fish. As plastic isn’t porous, the risk of trapping bacteria is low.

In addition to being a great option for raw meat and fish, they’re the ideal choice for prepping fruits, veggies, cheese, bread, etc.

  • Budget-friendly

Plastic cutting boards are less expensive than some other cutting boards.

With this in mind, it’s not too much to invest in several of them so that you can have separate ones for usage with different types of foods.

  • Gentler on knives

Although a plastic cutting board isn’t as gentle on your knives as maple cutting boards are, some plastic cutting boards are gentler on your knives than some other options like glass boards.

With this in mind, this board may be a good choice when you want to protect your knives.

Despite certain advantages of plastic cutting boards, they’re not flawless.

With continuous use, the board can develop irreversible scratches and when they’re too deep and there are too many of them, it’s recommendable to replace the board because these indentations can start to harbor bacteria.

Moreover, plastic may be less damaging on knives than glass boards; however, it’s harsher on blades than wood which is a softer and natural material.

How to Sanitize a Plastic Cutting  Board?

With the right sanitization of your plastic cutting boards, you decrease the risk of cross-contamination and prevent bacteria from spreading.

In addition to the warm water and soap, plastic cutting boards benefit from being disinfected, especially after developing pockets from all the usage of knives and other blades.

These indentations don’t necessarily mean it’s time to throw away the board-it may only require disinfection. Below, check out four ways to thoroughly disinfect your plastic cutting boards for maximized safety!

  • Vinegar

You need a cup of water, half a cup of white vinegar, distilled, and 5 drops of lemon or thieves essential oil.

Mix the ingredients and using a clean cloth or a brush, wash the board with the mixture, on both sides. Rinse and dry as usual.

  • Baking soda

To make a paste, combine a tbsp of baking soda, one tbsp of water, a tbsp of lemon essential oil or lemon juice, and a tbsp of salt.

Apply the paste over the cutting board, on both sides. Leave it for several minutes before rinsing and drying the board.

  • Bleach

Though it may have an unpleasant smell, bleach is pivotal when we want to remove any chance of meat bacteria and disinfect our plastic cutting boards.

Combine 1 or half a tsp of bleach with a quart of water.

Using a brush or a clean cloth, wipe down the entire board with the mixture. After this, rinse the cutting board with hot water thoroughly.

This method is best with white plastic boards; avoid using it with other colors because the bleach may cause them to go lighter.

  • Hydrogen peroxide

A 3 percent hydrogen peroxide can disinfect and destroy any bacteria on your cutting board surface.

Pour some of it onto it and leave it for two minutes or so before you rinse off and dry the board.

Don’t leave the hydrogen peroxide for too long because it may cause discoloration.

When to Replace My Plastic Cutting Board?

Plastic cutting boards are safe to use if they’re properly cleaned and sanitized, but also replaced regularly.

It’s recommendable to replace your old plastic cutting boards with new ones every one to five years, depending on how often it’s being used, with what kind of foods, and whether the indentations are too deep or not.

When you’re not sure if the plastic cutting board is ready for the bin or not, you can rely on the one-year rule. And, when in doubt, it’s better to throw it out.

Since plastic cutting boards aren’t expensive, it’s always better to spend a couple of dollars on a new one rather than risking cross-contamination.

Final Thoughts

As long as plastic cutting boards are regularly cleaned and sanitized, they’re safe to use with a variety of foods ranging from raw meat to fruits and veggies.

Plastic cutting boards have plenty of benefits to offer, from being budget-friendly and easy to clean to being easier on knife blades, and therefore, every kitchen should have one!

However, as no cutting board is perfect, a plastic one has some disadvantages like being less gentle on knives than wood which is natural and not as long-lasting as some other options.

And, with prolonged use, it will eventually start developing cracks from all the chopping and slicing. Though these can be kept clean with proper cleaning and disinfection, it’s also recommendable to replace them every one to five years.

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