The Gross Reason You Need at Least Two Cutting Boards

Bacteria can thrive in unexpected places—which is why you need separate cutting boards in your kitchen. We got the full scoop on this icky problem.

Pieces of chicken meat on cutting board, dill, garlic, spices and knife on wooden table.Evgeny Tomeev/Shutterstock

Safely handling raw food is a skill every home cook should have. But safe food handling doesn’t stop at storing meats at proper temperatures and ensuring they’re cooked through before they hit your plate. Food prep is equally important. To help prevent food poisoning and potential food contamination in your kitchen, you’ll need a dedicated meat and chicken cutting board. Here’s why.

Why You Need a Separate Cutting Board for Meat

Whether you’re serving up meat, poultry or seafood for dinner, any form of raw meat may contain bacteria. And when you use a cutting board to prepare these food items, said bacteria can survive a hot, soapy wash and linger in the board’s crevices. The result? You could potentially taint other foods chopped on the same board.

Plus: Are you storing food all wrong?

While that may be less of a problem for meat cooked to a safe internal temperature, your fruits and veggies may pick up some of the bacteria from your cutting board. Yuck. This possibility for cross-contamination is the same reason why health officials caution against washing chicken before you cook it.

Luckily, reducing the risk is simple. Keep two or more cutting boards on hand and make sure one of them is reserved specifically for chopping raw meat, poultry and seafood.

Learn the best way to clean your wooden cutting board here.

The Best Types of Cutting Boards for Your Kitchen

In addition to owning separate surfaces, you also need to pay attention to the board’s material. It’s true that wood cutting boards look good, but using them for meat or poultry is a big no-no according to the USDA. Bacteria can thrive inside the wood’s pores which may lead to food poisoning. The USDA recommends using non-porous cutting boards (like this cute set) for handling meat. Acrylic or glass cutting boards are also great additions to your kitchen.

If you can’t bear to part with your wood cutting board, save it for fruits, vegetables, cheese and bread. Your family will thank you!

Plus, read: How to Make a Cutting Board.

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Camille Berry
Camille Berry is a food and drinks writer who divides her time between her native San Francisco and the UK. Her work has appeared on Wine Folly, Vinepair, The Back Label, in Spirited Virginia Magazine, and many other websites and publications.

Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was practically born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director at several of San Francisco's most well-loved restaurants. This hospitality experience has endowed her with a wealth of first-hand knowledge of various cuisines, how to pair all manner of drinks with food, and entertaining – plus some serious kitchen skills. She is both a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Wine Specialist through the Society of Wine Educators.