You can cut meat and vegetables on the same cutting board, but, you’re risking cross-contamination!
To ensure food safety, it’s recommendable to have separate boards for cutting veggies and meat, but also for poultry, seafood, and eggs.
Although it may seem easier (and cheaper) to have one cutting board for everything, this isn’t hygienic.
When the juice from raw meat or germs from unclean objects comes into contact with cooked or foods ready to consume, cross contamination may happen!
When boards aren’t cleaned, they become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and promote this contamination! Below, learn more about how to keep your cutting boards clean and decrease the risk of food-borne illnesses.
Table of Contents
You can, but it’s best to avoid this practice!
Despite using cutting boards on a daily basis, many users aren’t aware that they should use separate ones for different types of foods.
A rule of thumb is to have one for meat and meat products and another one for foods like veggies and fruits.
Using one board for various foods can have negative effects and increase your and your family’s risk of food-borne illnesses.
Besides washing your hands and all cutting surfaces before and after any food prep, you should also use cutting boards properly to prevent bacteria from spreading.
This is because foods like eggs, raw meat, seafood, poultry, etc. may transfer bacteria to other foods, even after washing. Many cutting boards develop tiny pores where bacteria and other microorganisms can thrive.
So, if you’re cutting something like a veggie, fruit, or some cheese on a board and then use the same board with raw meat, you’re risking cross-contamination. So, it’s best to use separate cutting boards and decrease the chance of bacteria spreading.
If there’s any reason why you can’t have separate cutting boards, at least two, use the board to cut veggies first and then proceed to fish, eggs, etc.
Always wash the board between foods. Don’t forget to keep all cooktops and work surfaces clean to optimize food safety.
When it comes to raw meat prep, plastic cutting boards are considered the best choice.
This is because plastic is dishwasher-safe, non-porous, and easy to sanitize.
But, wooden cutting boards and bamboo ones aren’t dishwasher-safe and less easy to sanitize. If you still prefer wooden cutting boards, opt for an end grain board.
These boards are considered stronger and less prone to cracks.
Take into account that plastic cutting boards may develop cracks from all the knives as time goes by.
When there are too many that can’t be fixed, it’s best to replace the board with a new one to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
For fruits, veggies, bread, cheese, etc., wooden cutting boards are a popular option, as well as for any other, ready-to-eat foods.
Whichever board you choose, what matters is to clean it before and after each use. And, have separate ones for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods.
Cross contamination occurs when bacteria (or other microorganisms) go from one to another object.
For example, bacteria go from raw into cooked food or vice versa. And, cross contamination is considered the most common reason for foodborne infections.
Some of the most common foodborne illnesses are salmonella, norovirus, and staph.
Let’s say you’re prepping raw meat: the bacteria from its juices may enter the pores of the board, knives, and hands.
Considering the importance of hygienic food prep, you should always do your best to maximize food safety in the kitchen.
You can achieve this by using separate boards, plates, and utensils for cooked and raw food. And, by washing utensils between tasks, avoiding washing raw meat, and always washing your hands before and after touching any food.
Moreover, take special care of how you prep meat, especially raw.
Whichever method you choose, take into account that the meat will release juices. These liquids may go into the surface indentations that it’s being cut onto.
This is totally okay if you’re using that board for meat only and not with other foods. And, of course, wash it every after use.
To lower the risk of bacteria spreading and foodborne illnesses, take simple, yet effective precautions. Here are some examples:
- After using a cutting board, wash it well and dry it before storing it away
- Regularly disinfect your cutting boards with sanitizer
- Replace your old cutting boards with new ones, especially after they’ve developed too many cracks and indentations that can’t be fixed
- Place poultry, seafood, eggs, and meat separate from fruits and veggies in the shopping cart to avert juices escaping and dripping on items
- Keep meat and produce in separate carts in the fridge
- Have two boards for cutting in your kitchen. Use one to cut raw meat, seafood, and poultry. Use the other for foods like veggies and bread
- Avoid buying several boards of the same look and color to prevent confusion and misuse; opt for color-coding instead
- Marinate food in the fridge and follow proper storage tips
- Keep a clean marinade portion to use with cooked meat, seafood, and poultry
- If you need to reuse marinade which was in raw food, bring it to a boil before using it with cooked food
- Always clean spills on the kitchen counters with hot and soapy water and a clean paper towel or a cloth
- Wash the reusable cloths on a hot cycle
- Avoid using wooden cutting boards with raw meat, seafood, and poultry; the board may develop grooves and the bacteria from the meat’s juices
- As long as wooden boards aren’t cracked and worn out, they can be used with meat if they’re sanitized and cleaned properly
Although you can cut meat and vegetables on the same cutting board, having separate ones for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods is much more hygienic.
In this way, you lower the risk of cross-contamination and food-borne diseases. Color-coding can be of great aid to always know which board is used with which food.
By using cutting boards properly, you won’t just maximize food safety, but also prolong their longevity.