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Old 04-24-2009, 08:57 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Rob Babcock View Post
...and a study found some of the molecules of the coating in the livers of polar bears (and 95% of all living beings tested had them in their cells)...

From an article in Good Housekeeping Magazine discussing non-stick coatings:

PFOA, a chemical known to cause tumors and developmental defects in animals (there is no proven harmful effect on humans) is used in the manufacturing process (for non-stick pan coatings) but is not present in the finished product. PFOA is present in other products such as microwave popcorn bags, fast food containers, shampoos, carpeting and clothing.



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Old 04-25-2009, 01:28 PM   #32
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most of my boards and utensils are silicone or plastic washed with bleach. i do use some wood cooking tools but rarely and only for non meat cooking. i have one very large plastic board i only use for meats which fits inside a tray and it can't be mistaken for any of my other boards. my other plastic boards (oxo and non-skid) have 2 sides one with a "well" around it the other side flat. i use these for veggies only. i also have large plactic mats i use for pastry.

i will never use wood boards after friends got rather ill and it was directly related to the wood boards they used for cooking. i immediately threw all of mine away.
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Old 04-25-2009, 03:43 PM   #33
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If you maintain your cutting boards properly, there shouldn't be any bacteria present ... wood or plastic. We use plastic ourselves, chef's choice, we just bought another yesterday as a matter of fact. Something those that are arguing for wood because of the "drying out" factor ... just how long does it take to "dry out" bacteria? I've seen bacteria survive extreme conditions before, it may take weeks if not months to kill bacteria by simply drying it out. And I'm sure you will be using the board again before this, yes?

As has been stated, there are as many arguments and studies for one as the other, so use what you're comfortable with.

We use a microwave, but 99% of the time it is only to nuke leftovers, we don't use it to cook anything from scratch. I did read back in '05 or '06 about a study done on nuking things on or with Styrofoam increases carcinogens and raises your likelihood of cancer. Not sure on how accurate it was, but it makes you wonder about the materials that should be used in a microwave.
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Old 04-25-2009, 03:55 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by msmofet View Post
...i will never use wood boards after friends got rather ill and it was directly related to the wood boards they used for cooking. i immediately threw all of mine away.
Most experts disagree that wood cutting boards are inherently less sanitary than plastic. True, plastic are easier to clean as they can be put in the dishwasher whereas wood cannot (or should not), but that's not true once the surface of the plastic cutting board develops cuts and gouges from use. Wood, OTOH, has natural antibacterial qualities that keep germs from growing, even in the cuts and gouges that invariably develop over time. So it's six of one, half a dozen of the other, IMHO.

Regardless of whether you have a wood or a plastic cutting board, the important thing is to avoid cross-contamination. That occurs when, for example, you cut raw chicken on the board and then use the same board to chop ingredients for a raw salad. That can happen whether you use wood or plastic boards. It's therefore important to have separate boards for meats and greens, especially for raw fruits and veggies (although it's not necessary if the veggies are going to be cooked before serving).

It's also important to clean your boards -- wood or plastic -- by washing them between uses and sanitizing them with either a dilute mixture of bleach and water or with vinegar.

This site has a good deal of practical information about cutting boards: CLICK ME
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Old 04-25-2009, 03:57 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by freefallin1309 View Post
If you maintain your cutting boards properly, there shouldn't be any bacteria present ... wood or plastic. We use plastic ourselves, chef's choice, we just bought another yesterday as a matter of fact. Something those that are arguing for wood because of the "drying out" factor ... just how long does it take to "dry out" bacteria?
A few minutes.
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Old 04-25-2009, 04:01 PM   #36
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A few minutes.

Water doesn't even dry out in a few minutes without the aid of heat. Some bacteria can survive in conditions that would burn the flesh off of a human down to the bone, so I'm having a hard time with the "weak bacteria" theory of drying up and dying in a few minutes..
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Old 04-25-2009, 06:49 PM   #37
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Wood, OTOH, has natural antibacterial qualities that keep germs from growing, even in the cuts and gouges that invariably develop over time.
I'd like to see the data/studies on this and where it was from.

Seems to me there's more problems with the pathogens Listeria and Shigella in fresh fruits/vegs from careless "cooks" than there ever was before. (handwashing)

I was always taught in culinary arts schools that I've attended that using plastic was safer as it wasn't as porous as wood.Commercial cutting boards are much different than the ones you can buy at Wal-mart or some other retail store.They have non-absorbent surfaces that are antimicrobial and non-porous. None of the schools that I went to or taught at, nor the restaurants that I worked in or ran used wood. It absorbs liquid, and pathogens and unless you have many to work with in order to let another dry out, they're too dangerous for me to take the chance on making a patron or loved one sick. As a head chef in my kitchens I could be sued for making someone sick or even dead. I don't want to take that chance.
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Old 04-25-2009, 07:29 PM   #38
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Old 04-25-2009, 07:54 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by chefkathleen View Post
I'd like to see the data/studies on this and where it was from....
Try this one, a summary of a study by Dr. Dean O. Cliver, PhD, Professor of Food Safety at the University of California, Davis (available on line here):

PLASTIC AND WOODEN CUTTING BOARDS

Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D
We began our research comparing plastic and wooden cutting boards after the U.S. Department of Agriculture told us they had no scientific evidence to support their recommendation that plastic, rather than wooden cutting boards be used in home kitchens. Then and since, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Inspection Manual (official regulations) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 1999 Food Code (recommended regulations for restaurants and retail food sales in the various states of the U.S.) permit use of cutting boards made of maple or similar close-grained hardwood. They do not specifically authorize acceptable plastic materials, nor do they specify how plastic surfaces must be maintained.

Our research was first intended to develop means of disinfecting wooden cutting surfaces at home, so that they would be almost as safe as plastics. Our safety concern was that bacteria such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, which might contaminate a work surface when raw meat was being prepared, ought not remain on the surface to contaminate other foods that might be eaten without further cooking. We soon found that disease bacteria such as these were not recoverable from wooden surfaces in a short time after they were applied, unless very large numbers were used. New plastic surfaces allowed the bacteria to persist, but were easily cleaned and disinfected. However, wooden boards that had been used and had many knife cuts acted almost the same as new wood, whereas plastic surfaces that were knife-scarred were impossible to clean and disinfect manually, especially when food residues such as chicken fat were present. Scanning electron micrographs revealed highly significant damage to plastic surfaces from knife cuts.

Although the bacteria that have disappeared from the wood surfaces are found alive inside the wood for some time after application, they evidently do not multiply, and they gradually die. They can be detected only by splitting or gouging the wood or by forcing water completely through from one surface to the other. If a sharp knife is used to cut into the work surfaces after used plastic or wood has been contaminated with bacteria and cleaned manually, more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface.

"Manual cleaning" in our experiments has been done with a sponge, hot tapwater, and liquid dishwashing detergent. Mechanical cleaning with a dishwashing machine can be done successfully with plastic surfaces (even if knife-scarred) and wooden boards especially made for this. Wooden boards, but not plastics, that are small enough to fit into a microwave oven can be disinfected rapidly, but care must be used to prevent overheating. Work surfaces that have been cleaned can be disinfected with bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solutions; this disinfection is reliable only if cleaning has been done successfully.

The experiments described have been conducted with more than 10 species of hardwoods and with 4 plastic polymers, as well as hard rubber. Because we found essentially no differences among the tested wood species, not all combinations of bacteria and wood were tested, nor were all combinations of bacteria and plastics or hard rubber. Bacteria tested, in addition to those named above, include Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus.

We believe that the experiments were designed to be properly representative of conditions in a home kitchen. They may or may not be applicable to other plastic and wooden food contact surfaces or to cutting boards in commercial food processing or food service operations, but we have no reason to believe that they are not relevant, except that not all plastic surfaces are subject to knife-scarring. Before our first studies had been published, they were criticized incorrectly for not having included used (knife-scarred) cutting surfaces. We had been careful to include used surfaces, and so were surprised that others who did later experiments and claimed to have refuted our findings often had used only new plastic and wood. Although some established scientific laboratories say their results differ from ours, we have received multiple communications from school children who have done science projects that have reached essentially the same conclusions that we did.

We have no commercial relationships to any company making cutting boards or other food preparation utensils. We have tested boards and cleaning and disinfection products, some of which were supplied to us gratis. We have not tested all of the products that have been sent to us, simply because there is not time. We are aware that there are other food preparation surfaces made of glass or of stainless steel; we have done very little with these because they are quite destructive of the sharp cutting edges of knives, and therefore introduce another class of hazard to the kitchen. We believe, on the basis of our published and to-be-published research, that food can be prepared safely on wooden cutting surfaces and that plastic cutting surfaces present some disadvantages that had been overlooked until we found them.

In addition to our laboratory research on this subject, we learned after arriving in California in June of 1995 that a case-control study of sporadic salmonellosis had been done in this region and included cutting boards among many risk factors assessed (Kass, P.H., et al., Disease determinants of sporadic salmonellosis in four northern California counties: a case control study of older children and adults. Ann. Epidemiol. 2:683-696, 1992.). The project had been conducted before our work began. It revealed that those using wooden cutting boards in their home kitchens were less than half as likely as average to contract salmonellosis (odds ratio 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.22-0.81), those using synthetic (plastic or glass) cutting boards were about twice as likely as average to contract salmonellosis (O.R. 1.99, C.I. 1.03-3.85); and the effect of cleaning the board regularly after preparing meat on it was not statistically significant (O.R. 1.20, C.I. 0.54-2.68). We know of no similar research that has been done anywhere, so we regard it as the best epidemiological evidence available to date that wooden cutting boards are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be.

Publications to date from our work:

Ak, N. O., D. O. Cliver, and C. W. Kaspar. 1994. Cutting boards of plastic and wood contaminated experimentally with bacteria. J. Food Protect. 57: 16-22.

Ak, N. O., D. O. Cliver, and C. W. Kaspar. 1994. Decontamination of plastic and wooden cutting boards for kitchen use. J. Food Protect. 57: 23-30,36.

Galluzzo, L., and D. O. Cliver. 1996. Cutting boards and bacteria--oak vs. Salmonella. Dairy, Food Environ. Sanit. 16: 290-293.

Park, P. K., and D. O. Cliver. 1996. Disinfection of household cutting boards with a microwave oven. J. Food. Protect. 59: 1049-1054.

Park, P. K., and D. O. Cliver. 1997. Cutting boards up close. Food Quality 3(Issue 22, June-July): 57-59.

Others are in preparation.
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Old 04-25-2009, 07:57 PM   #40
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You might also find this question, "Are plastic cutting boards safer than the old-fashioned wooden kind," and the answer posted by Patrick J. Bird, Dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, University of Florida, on the International Food Safety Network Site run by Kansas State University, available on line here:

WOOD CUTTING BOARDS ARE SAFEST

28.apr.98

Sources
  • St. Petersburg Times PATRICK J. BIRD
Question: Are plastic cutting boards safer than old-fashioned wooden kind? And what about the new anti-bacterial cutting boards? Do they actually prevent the spread of germs such as salmonella and E. coli, as the ads say?

Answer: Although the Food and Drug Administration has long recommended plastic cutting boards, based on the observation that it is not as hard to clean plastic as porous wood, new information shows that wood cutting boards are actually safer than the plastic or so-called anti-bacterial kind.

About four years ago, it was discovered that it’s easier to recover live bacteria from a plastic cutting board than from one made of wood -- this because through the capillary action of dry wood, germs quickly disappear beneath the surface of the board, leaving the exposed area free of microbes. In contrast, bacteria sit on the surface of the hard plastic cutting board, ready to attack the next food item.

Also, hand scrubbing with hot water and soap can clear microbes from the surface of new or used wooden cutting boards and new plastic ones, but knife-scarred plastic boards are resistant to decontamination by hand washing.

This does not mean that you can trust wood cutting boards to completely decontaminate themselves or that plastic ones are worthless. Caution must be taken when using any type of cutting board.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
  • All cutting boards should be scrubbed thoroughly with hot water and soap or, if possible, run through the dishwasher to ensure that they are not contaminated.
  • All cutting boards, and other food surfaces, should be kept dry when not in use. Resident bacteria survive no more than a few hours without moisture.
  • A mild bleach solution will decontaminate plastic and other surfaces. But even at full strength, bleach does not sanitize wood cutting boards. The disinfectant quality of bleach is neutralized by the organic composition of wood.
  • A good procedure for disinfecting wood and plastic cutting boards, as well as other surfaces and utensils, is to spray them first with a mist of vinegar, then with a mist of hydrogen peroxide. This combo kills bacteria on meat and produce, too, without hurting the food.
  • Cooking a wood board at high heat in an 800-watt microwave oven for 10 minutes will kill germs on and below the surface of the wood. Microwaving does not, however, disinfect plastic boards because their surfaces never get hot enough to kill the germs.
Regarding anti-bacterial cutting boards: Save your money. They are not self-sanitizing. Last year, for instance, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered two companies to stop selling cutting boards that carried labels claiming they prevented the growth of food poisoning organisms, including salmonella and E. coli, and reduced the danger of bacterial contamination. These cutting boards had been treated by a pesticide that protects products from odor-causing bacteria but has not been shown to be effective against organisms that can cause disease. Anti-bacterial cutting board concerns are part of a larger EPA crackdown on so-called self-disinfecting brushes, sponges and toys. For now, beware of all anti-bacterial kitchen products.

End note: As many as 81-million cases of food-borne illnesses occur in the United States each year, and most of these gut-wrenching infections can be traced to the home kitchen. Any surface -- even stainless steel pans, knives, sinks, food-processor blades and mixing bowls -- can harbor nasty microbes. Fortunately, kitchen germs can usually be killed by a good scrubbing with hot water and soap, or a turn in the dishwasher, and by keeping all surfaces clean and dry.

Patrick J. Bird, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, University of Florida, draws on a data base of more than 3,800 medical, health and fitness journals for preparing answers to questions in his column. Write with questions to Dr. Bird, College of Health and Human Performance, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
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