Across the board (cutting boards)

Across the board (cutting boards)

What’s the center of your kitchen food-safety program? If it’s not the cutting boards, your efforts to produce pathogen-free food stand little chance of succeeding.

In fact, kitchen cutting boards should be the center of any food-safety program, given that cross-contamination is more likely to occur on cutting boards than anywhere else in the kitchen.

“If you want to have an effective food-safety program, you need to use color-coded cutting boards,” said Norm Faiola, chairman of the department of nutrition and food management at Syracuse University. “If your boards aren’t coded, you’re inviting cross-contamination.”

Colored boards offer a simple way to reduce contamination. For example, a red board may be used only for the preparation of beef, while poultry is assigned to a white board, fish to a tan board, vegetables to a green board, etc.

Whether to use a plastic or wooden board is often a vexing question for food managers. In general, plastic boards are better because wooden boards do not clean as well. Bacteria love to hide in the knife nicks found on wooden boards, and sanitizers can’t always penetrate the scarred areas. Those who prefer wooden boards should try to use only those that carry the National Sanitation Foundation logo, which certifies the soundness of the material.

Whatever type of board is used, it is critical there be enough of them because boards should be rotated in and out of the washer constantly. In addition to machine washings, boards should be cleaned by hand between washings, with no board left uncleaned for more than two hours.

When hand-cleaning a board, it is important to choose the right chemical sanitizer and to know how to apply it.

And finally, food handlers need to realize that the area surrounding the board, as well as the cloth used to clean it, are also potential sources of cross-contamination. They, along with the cutting utensils, must be cleaned as regularly as the board itself.

Contributed by Jack Flanders, DAYDOTS International, Fort Worth, TX