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CUTTING BOARD - Page 3

post #61 of 74

For foods that are going to be cooked very soon, the issues are cross-contamination of flavours, keeping the knife edge, and other matters of convenience.  You really don't have to worry about bacteria.

 

As regards knife edges and convenience, wooden boards seem preferable to me: they are less aggressive on the knife surface and don't slide around the work surfaces as much as plastics (or, heaven forfend, glass).   Personally I avoid woods with too high a silica content because of the effect on knives; this eliminates bamboo; European oak is normally OK if it is used regularly (so not forcibly dried out), but some high-silica soft-wood species might be problematic (I don't know).   End grain is softer on knives than side-grain, but (as attested by the practice of just-about every butcher I have visited) the disadvantage of side grain is easily offset with a leather strop.

 

As regards hygiene, meat sold by butchers is not usually cooked immediately - bacteria have every opportunity to multiply.  I believe butchers continuing to use wood provides practical support for the hygienic properties of wood.

 

So I also prefer to cut foodstuffs that will not subsequently be cooked on a (different) wooden surface.  These are the more critical items; however, bacteria tend to be most plentiful on the crops on which is they find it easiest to multiply, so (provided you don't have contamination from foodstuffs that need cookiing to be safe) the risks of cross-contamination tend to be overstated - provided you don't leave prepared foods in a warm environment for long periods. 

 

I would also recommend the following simple experiment to debunk the myth that "sterile plastic is hygienic": 
 Get some cheese and divide it into four portions with a just-sterilised knife.

 Wrap one portion in waxed paper
 Place another on a clean wooden cheese-board with a non-touching glass or pottery cover

   (you can wrap this in polythene to keep the humidity up if you feel this is fairer)

 Wrap another in flexible polythene
 Place another on a clean polyethylene chopping board, and provide a similar environment as for the cheese on the wooden board.

Keep all four cheeses in a similar environment (fridge or not-so-cool area).

Check the order in which the cheese becomes inedible.

 (The flexible polythene will go off first; although this would not be directly relevant to the rigid polyethylene, it immediately shows that initial sterility is not the be-all and end-all.  In addition, the rigid polythethylene will usually be next, followed in no particular order by the other two portions.)

post #62 of 74

Your hygiene test is flawed in so many ways. 

 

I'm not disputing that wood can kill bacteria. I'm disputing that wood is more food safe than plastic.  

 

Wood doesn't kill fast and it doesn't kill all. The increased kill rate is not enough to matter. You'll get sick on wood as fast as on plastic. It's all about washing. And once you've done the washing, they're equally good FOR HOME USE. Since we're already washing, why are you arguing for a quality that washing equalizes? 

 

For commercial use, you can sterilize plastic. You can't sterilize wood. 

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post #63 of 74

you can sterilize either if you wish, I keep a spray bottle of bleach solution under the sink just for that.  here is the study I reference that basically says either wood or plastic is ok if kept clean.  http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/docliver/Research/cuttingboard.htm  I use cutting boards of HDPE or PP for proteins for ease of cleaning.  when one side is covered in cuts, turn it over, remove protective film and off you go.  when both sides are scarred up, board goes to shop to be used as drawer runners or a surface to glue on.  last piece I bought was 48" x 16" and cost $18 delivered, for me about a year's supply.

'

Scott just a tired old sailor glad to be home from the sea
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post #64 of 74

I ferment beer in HDPE buckets, a method that requires a far more sanitized surface than a cutting board. Do not use an abrasive scrubber to clean it, use a sponge or cloth so you don't scratch the surface and leave areas fr germs to hide.

post #65 of 74

@phatch: I believe you are mistaken regarding my test (see below), but I am open to suggestions of a valid test.  

 

As a note, the polymers in my test are sterile, the wood possibly not.  But the wood still 'wins' this test, as it does for the butcher's product.

 

However, contrary to your claim that my purpose was to argue that wood was superior: it was merely to debunk the claims of the purveyors of coloured plastics that these are superior.  It so happens that the method involves an atypical situation where the superiority of wood (and similarly of naturally-waxed paper) is visible. 

 

Your other point is clearly incorrect: it is quite straightforward to sterilise wood.  Any of steam, hot water or oxygen-based bleach (HOOH derivatives) will do the job.  Many Cl-based bleaches are OK if reasonably-washed-off, but I would not sterilise wood in a standard dishwasher run because of re-release of the chemicals that are used.

 

The following three sub-paragraphs are irrelevant under most conditions: they are merelty included to counter another point that you try to make.
We all agree that there is no problem with hygiene if the surface is sterile.  The difficulty with polyethylene is keeping it that way.  If you are working with a face mask and gloves, and don't cut anything that might make tiny splashes onto other boards, then these other boards will remain sterile. It would be equivalent to keep the boards in a sealed environment until they are used.
If on the other hand there are tiny splashes, reasonably dry wood will sterilise these in the time it takes to transfer between boards; the polyethylene board will not.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that these bacteriological levels are necessary - only that wood is superior under all other circumstances, although this is of course practically irrelevant if proper practices are adhered to.

 

To repeat: my demonstration was not to show that wood was preferable in hygienic terms, merely that it is not inferior as has been claimed by purveyors of coloured plastics.  The choice then comes down to other matters: effect on tools, convenience in use, ease of cleaning, and acceptability of ingesting micro-particulates such as are generated in use.  Little if any work has been done on this final aspect as regards kitchen practice, but it is well demonstrated that micro-plastics particles can emulate certain hormones in ways that are detrimental to mammalian males, and the chemical (as well as mechanical) effects of plastics pollution on marine wildlife are well documented.

 

If you are concerned with ease of sterilisation, the supposed disadvantage of wood could readily be overcome by placing the boards in a traditional-toaster-shaped steam bath (or spray with superheated steam from the coffee machines - but being a new practise this might not find avour with the health-and-safety fraternity).

 

In short, my contention is that there is no good science to support the use of plastics food-preparation surfaces as compared with wood, and that the only advantage to offset the numerous potential disadvantages is that no thought is needed to sterilise the plastics in a dishwasher. 


Edited by gyorgyS - 6/19/17 at 5:46pm
post #66 of 74

@MaryB

Agreed: I would have expected that you would need to be careful with the quality of your plastics surface.  Do you consider it relevant to the arguments that brewers traditionally use rough-surfaced wooden barrels?


Edited by gyorgyS - 6/19/17 at 7:34pm
post #67 of 74

gyorgyS, you are repeated what was said here http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/docliver/Research/cuttingboard.htm almost 20 years ago.  for me the issue is state, county and city health boards/regulators can't make up their mind which is ok and which is not.  some of the counties nearby wood is ok if kept clean and discarded or sanded smooth when cut up.  others demand plastic cutting boards and molded plastic knife knife handles.

also see https://news.ncsu.edu/2014/09/cutting-boards-food-safety/

Scott just a tired old sailor glad to be home from the sea
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post #68 of 74

@Scott  Thank you for the references.  My comments are based only on general bacterialogical data and personal observation, so it is good to have reference to detailed tests.  I would have expected the results to be similar to my conclusions, but perhaps not quite as definitively so.   I neglected to mention salt (NaCl) as an effective cleaning agent.  I also neglected to mention that I periodically use a steel "kidney-scraper" to smooth the surface, though this is more for ease of fine-cutting herbs than hygiene.

This also reduces fibre-shedding into the food, though I would be more content to eat miniscule amounts of wood fibre than finely divided plastic.  My boards are exclusively beechwood and I have found no need to oil them; this is just as well, as I am not aware of any work on the health effects of eating mineral oil, polymerised tung oil or ransid olive oil.  (This last is not true of all constituents of ransid oils, such as transfats...)


Edited by gyorgyS - 6/19/17 at 7:33pm
post #69 of 74

on mineral oil, I use USP mineral oil, which is used in large quantities, several tablespoons, as a laxative.  I finish cutting boards with a mixture of USP mineral oil and food grade beeswax

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post #70 of 74

I don' know anything against laxative use of USP (no experience - in my 70-some years I haven't had this problem if my fluid intake was adequate). But l'm not sure what happens to USP when simultaneously exposed long-term to light and the more aggressive foodstuffs. 

Beeswax is pretty stable, so far as I know.

 

But beech and similar fine-grained woods seem to be stable without application of sealants, so I would query the need to "finish" a board in the first instance

post #71 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by gyorgyS View Post
 

@MaryB

Agreed: I would have expected that you would need to be careful with the quality of your plastics surface.  Do you consider it relevant to the arguments that brewers traditionally use rough-surfaced wooden barrels?


Actually ceramic crocks were traditional, wood casks came about with English ales being shipped to India. Hence the IPA India Pale Ale. Germans used crocks then copper...

post #72 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryB View Post
 


Actually ceramic crocks were traditional, wood casks came about with English ales being shipped to India. Hence the IPA India Pale Ale. Germans used crocks then copper...

I would expect home brewing to have used whatever was available: from leather bottles through pottery to (wooden) milk buckets.  Some of the product would have been "interesting", which may explain the emergence of tradesman brewers (there are records of monopolistic groupings in England and Germany that date back to beyond 1300). 

 

The Germans started using hops as flavouring/preservative somewhere arond this period, and more-or-less simultaneously started the standardisation of (wooden) beer barrel sizes.   Hogsheads and tonnes (or tunnes - now tuns) were in use by the time of Chaucer, and the "Ale Hogshead" was standardised in the UK as 54 ale-gallons by the mid 15th century (restandardised several times since then). 

I regard this style of brewing as traditional.

 

I'm not clear where you get the idea of fermenting in copper.  It could have been used for softening the mash, but I would hate to try fermentating and maturation in a copper vessel.  Could it be that you have seen some of the pseudo-historical misinterpretations of Kuper?

[Cooper as cask-maker typically derives from Latin cupa (tub, cask, barrel etc.), probably wirh medieval Flemish/Greman Kuper as intermediary.  Coppice has the same origins.  Nothing to do with copper =Cypra, later corrupted to Cupra]

 

As an aside, the tradition of homes being tiny breweries persisted in small village comminities in barley-growing parts of Norfolk into at least the mid 1950s.  In my village every second or third home would brew batches in turn, and the home become a mini-pub for a few days when their batch was ready.  Depending on the size of home the brew could be anything up to a couple of hogsheads or even a tun.  Other houses were bakeries etc (mine had been both at various times).  Many incomers found this largely cashless social lifeprofoundly confusing and relatively few understood the commitment required to become part of the community; naturally they thought the locals were being excessively parochial.  (I doubt the excise were amused either, but there was little they could do).

post #73 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by gyorgyS View Post
 

I don' know anything against laxative use of USP (no experience - in my 70-some years I haven't had this problem if my fluid intake was adequate). But l'm not sure what happens to USP when simultaneously exposed long-term to light and the more aggressive foodstuffs. 

Beeswax is pretty stable, so far as I know.

 

But beech and similar fine-grained woods seem to be stable without application of sealants, so I would query the need to "finish" a board in the first instance

mineral oil, cured epoxy, cured polyurethane, HDPE, PP and wax are stable, not effected by foodstuffs and do not break down.  the beech in US is different from beech on the east side of the pond.  Maple, walnut, hickory, and the other hardwoods used for cutting boards need oil and/or wax to keep from cracking, especially if washed on a regular basis.  I don't buy wood cutting boards, I make them.  I base the need for oil and wax on 20+ years of monitoring the boards I have made.

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post #74 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Livesey View Post
 

mineral oil, cured epoxy, ... are stable, not effected by foodstuffs and do not break down. 

USP mineral oil:  I write this in ignorance: do you know why medical preparations include a stabiliser (Vitamin E)?  I had assumed this was to slow polymerisation, as heavy mineral oils are sometimes considered toxic.
Cured epoxies: it probably depends on the specific epoxy, but (in another life) I have sometimes needed to disencapsulate electronics packages; we had some success using strong acids and sometimes UV light.  Reactions with foodstuffs will be much slower, and of course the inside of a can (the normal foodstuff application) is dark. 

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