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Wooden Chopping Boards

Q. Can I use timber (hardwood) chopping boards or must I use plastic boards?

Wooden chopping boards can be used for food preparation as long as they are kept in a clean and hygienic condition. Generally, all surfaces which come in contact with food must be of sound condition and be easy to clean and where necessary disinfect. They must be made of smooth, washable, corrosion resistant and non-toxic material. Chopping boards must be constructed in a way that will minimize the risk of contamination. They must be kept in a good state of repair.

Wooden boards should be made of hardwood and preferably be of the end-grain type. Separate chopping boards must be used for raw and ready to eat foods to minimize the risk of cross contamination. If feasible, separate boards, preferably colour coded, should be used for:

  • raw meat/poultry;
  • raw fish and seafood;
  • raw unwashed vegetables salad and fruit;
  • dairy / bakery products; and
  • cooked meats.

Whether wooden or plastic chopping boards are used, it is essential that they are in good condition. Deeply scored chopping boards are more difficult to clean and can harbour harmful microorganisms which can contaminate food. They should be re-planed or, if this is not an option, they should be thrown away and replaced by new boards.

Q. How do I clean my heavy timber chopping board?

  • immediately after each use, wooden chopping boards should be wiped down with a clean damp cloth to remove any remaining food debris
  • the board must then be scrubbed using a scrubbing brush, hot water and detergent. Rinse and dry it thoroughly.
  • to sanitise wooden chopping boards use either coarse salt, neat vinegar or diluted chlorine bleach (according to manufacturer’s instructions). If salt is used, spread it generously across the board and scrub. If using vinegar or chlorine bleach, cover the board in the solution and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Rinse off salt / solution and allow to air dry.
  • make sure boards are thoroughly dry before storing as damp boards will support bacterial growth.

NOTE: Care must be taken when using bleach to avoid corrosion of other surfaces and equipment and to ensure personal health and safety.