Consumer Reports: Keeping kitchen cutting boards bacteria free

They are the workhorses of your kitchen - your cutting boards. You probably use them every day. Consumer Reports has some useful tips on how to care for your cutting boards to keep them in top shape and as free of bacteria as possible.

One of the first questions you may have: Is plastic better than wood for resisting contamination by harmful bacteria that can be in raw food?

"Recent research actually suggests that neither plastic nor wood cutting boards are more likely to harbor dangerous bacteria like salmonella," said Consumer Reports Home Editor Paul Hope.

One important precaution: don't use the same board for bread, fruit and veggies that you use for cutting up raw meat, fish and poultry. After every use, even if it's just cutting bread, wash the board in hot, soapy water, rinse with clear water and dry.

"Plastic cutting boards are really easy to care for," Hope said. "You can scrub them down in the sink, or pop them right in the dishwasher."

Wood boards need a bit more attention. Don't soak them in water or they can warp when they dry. Protect the wood with a food grade mineral oil and then rub in a beeswax-based cream to reduce absorption of liquids.

If, despite all your efforts, your wood board still smells of the food you've cut on it, eliminate odors by rubbing with lemon and salt. Then rinse and pat dry.

Every few months, wash all types of cutting boards with a solution of one tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water to sanitize. Give a final rinse with plain water and dry thoroughly. Store upright to facilitate air flow and you're done!

You know how beaten up your cutting board can look after a while? Consumer Reports says replace that board when it gets scarred and treat yourself to a new one.

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