Why Don’t Restaurants Use Wooden Cutting Boards: The Truth Revealed


As a chef myself I know exactly the reason why restaurants don’t use wooden cutting boards and I have always wondered how many other people that are new to the industry or are just curious home cooks that want to know the answer. Probably many!

This is the reason why I started to write this article so all can know the in-depth answer to this question, not just a vague answer because there are many reasons why restaurants don’t use wooden cutting boards.

Wooden cutting boards don’t fit into the restaurant’s needs because they are hard to clean, require hand washing, cost multiple times more than plastic cutting boards, absorb liquids and meat juices so they aren’t as sanitary, and they can’t be color-coded either.

We definitely need a more in-depth inspection of every aspect above if we want to fully understand what is the reason behind that and what could happen if wooden cutting boards were used as they shouldn’t. Let’s take a closer look!

Sanitary

One of the main reasons why you really can’t find wooden cutting boards is sanitary reasons. Wooden cutting boards absorb meat juices, chicken marinara, fish liquids, and everything similar which imaginably wouldn’t be healthy if they were absorbed inside of the wooden cutting board’s structure.

If that were to happen bacteria growth would be too much in order to keep the hygiene at safe levels, therefore restaurants simply don’t use them

However in home use, wooden cutting boards would be perfectly safe to use because you would have the time and determination to clean them properly, but in a restaurant where you are constantly cutting and leaving the cutting boards to stand with the meat juices and ingredients on top of them will lead to huge bacteria growth and swelling of the cutting board.

Hard to clean

The second reason and perhaps the most notable of these all is the fact that they are just too hard to clean and they require too much care for commercial restaurant use. Proper cleaning is the most important aspect in restaurants so let’s take a look at why wooden cutting boards wouldn’t be the best choice.

Can’t be placed in a dishwasher

Wood simply can’t be placed into a hot and humid environment, especially dishwashers. This is because the wooden structure of the cutting board would just soak up too much water that would lead to serious damages to the cutting board. For example, this would definitely result in warping, cracking, swelling, and splintering.

The right and the only way to properly clean a wooden cutting board is by hand with hot water, soap, and instant and careful drying.

Requires occasional oiling & sanding

Proper cleaning isn’t the only thing that a wooden cutting board needs which brings us to oiling and sanding. Depending on how much the wooden cutting board is in use, and because this article is about restaurants I’ll assume it is a lot, they would need to be oiled approximately every other week. In addition, sanding would be a really smart thing to do in order to get rid of the cracks and gouges because that’s where the bacteria will thrive.

Separation

Separation is really beneficial in commercial kitchens so you can determine which of the cutting boards are used for meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, and cooked foods. This is important in order to prevent cross-contamination and you personally probably wouldn’t want to eat fruit salad that has been processed with the same cutting board as raw and bloody meat products. Wooden cutting boards just don’t offer color-coding possibilities so that’s another reason why restaurants don’t use wooden cutting boards

Cost

Another major reason why wooden cutting boards don’t usually see the inside of a commercial kitchen is cost. Let’s take an example. A wooden cutting board that would be a great choice for a restaurant costs more than double the price of an NSF-approved plastic cutting board of similar size.

Therefore there is no way that a restaurant would pay more than double the price of a product that has fewer perks that are required within the restaurant.

As we can see, there are many reasons why restaurants favor other materials instead of wood, especially plastic cutting boards are found inside commercial restaurants and kitchens.

What should you not cut on a wooden cutting board

There are many things that aren’t the best idea to cut on top of a wooden cutting board for hygiene and sanitary reasons. In addition, if you prepare these products using wood they will eventually result in strong odors that will be embedded in the product.

I have listed below most of the food types that you shouldn’t cut on top of wooden cutting boards.

  • Raw meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Other Seafood
  • Marinated meats

What is the most sanitary cutting board

In general, plastic cutting boards are the most sanitary choice because they are so easy to clean and they won’t soak up raw meat juices like, for example, wood does. However, if the deep grooves that will appear on the surface of a plastic cutting board aren’t removed, they can hold more bacteria than wooden ones because it is a softer material that is more vulnerable to cutting with a knife.

What comes to using cutting boards in a restaurant, plastic is definitely the choice.

Are wooden or plastic chopping boards better

Let’s take a good look at both cutting board materials and the pros and cons they hold so that we can make an informed decision.

Wooden cutting board pros

  • Durable
  • Easy for knives
  • Smooth & firm
  • Looks amazing

Cons

  • Sanitary problems
  • Hard to clean
  • Requires Maintenance
  • Pricier than plastic

Plastic cutting board pros

  • Better sanitary (Yet not perfect)
  • Cheap price
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be color coded
  • Easy for knives

Cons

  • May present hygiene problems
  • Worse to knife’s edge than wood (Still great)
  • Not as good looking

As we can see, both materials have great pros and yet some cons to their name. There are many different situations where a cutting board can be used whether that is at a commercial kitchen or home.

In general, plastic cutting boards are much better for the commercial kitchen due to the amazing perks that need to be in order within a restaurant’s kitchen. For example how easy they are to clean, cheaper to purchase, color coding opportunities, better sanitary properties, and overall better usage.

On the other hand, when all of those things aren’t needed at home, I prefer using wooden cutting boards. Even when plastic cutting boards may have better perks in sanitary etc, wood isn’t bad at all when taken care of right. Wood looks absolutely gorgeous for home use which is why most home chefs use them. However, they can’t be placed in a dishwasher because in that way they will get useless pretty fast.

Conclusion

With the reasons stated above it shouldn’t be too hard to understand why restaurant just doesn’t bother to use wooden cutting boards even when they look better and maybe more comfortable to work on.

What comes to home use, I do prefer my wooden cutting boards because I have the time to really take care of them, hand wash them, and oil them. The looks of a wooden cutting board are just astonishing and they work nearly with any home decor style, but for restaurants’, not so much.

I hope that this article gave you value and from now on you know that you shouldn’t cut raw meats and other hazardous ingredients that would cause the cutting board to be unsanitary. If you take care of things, they will do just fine.

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS and while I love working in a busy restaurant, I also enjoy more peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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