Well, while it may be a bit extreme to accuse chopping boards of actually trying to kill people, they are one item in your kitchen than can pose a significant threat to your health if you aren’t careful when you are using them. Why, you may ask? Well, because when we prepare food we tend to chop up both meat and vegetables for a given dish, and if you use the same chopping board that has had raw meat on it with cooked items or veg that you are preparing, you are risking contamination that can cause some nasty problems like salmonella poisoning. The worst culprits tend to be poultry and pork, but just about any meat, poultry or fish can lead to contamination issues if you don’t follow good kitchen hygiene principles with your knives and chopping boards. Here are some tips for keeping your food safe:
Wash and Disinfect As You Go
It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food hygiene so you can’t really have your kitchen too clean. As you use knives, bowls, and of course those all important chopping boards, wipe and wash with anti bacterial cleaning products to kill any germs and prevent juices from raw meats and poultry contaminating cooked foods or things you are going to eat raw. Throw away any packaging that has been in contact with raw produce too, and wash your hands every time you touch food. This may sound like a lot of cleaning and washing up, but it only takes seconds and can prevent serious food poisoning. Be extra careful when cleaning wooden chopping boards because these can end up with knife grooves in them where juices can stick and be hard to clean – tough plastic is generally better for meat, whereas wood is OK for cutting things like bread or vegetables that aren’t likely to be carrying any harmful micro organisms that can make you sick.
Consider Color Coding
In restaurants, chefs usually use different colored chopping boards so that they can avoid cross contamination between cooked and raw items. This means you always use the same chopping board for raw meat and have a different one for vegetables etc. This is generally accepted to be the safest and most hygienic way to go, and there is no reason why you can’t adopt the same thing in your own kitchen at home. You can also use color coded knives if you want to. You can buy these items in most kitchen departments or restaurant supply stores.
There really is no reason to take risks when it comes to cross contaminating food in your kitchen, and once you are in the habit of being spotless in your cleaning and making sure you only use chopping boards, knives and other implements that haven’t been in contact with different sorts of foods, it becomes second nature. Take stock of you own kitchen hygiene habits today, and if there is room for improvement, make an effort to get into new and better routines!
The author of this post, Richard Maxell, works at AB Restaurant Equipment, a leading company that provides restaurant equipment. His hobbies include gardening and he has cultivated an organic farm in his backyard.