I hate to tell you this, but your cutting board is right up there with your sponge and sink in terms of the dirtiest places in your kitchen. "There's more fecal bacteria on a cutting board than on a toilet," says Dr. Chuck Gerba, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona.
That's because cutting boards come into contact with all sorts of food in various stages, from raw to cooked and unwashed to clean. And much of the time, people just rinse it off, says Gerba, instead of taking the time to fully disinfect the cutting board.
When it comes to chicken, that fun-slash-yucky fact can turn into a health hazard. Because raw chicken and its juices can harbor bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens that lead to foodborne illnesses, you need to be extra careful about what cutting board you use to prepare chicken.
There are two keys when it comes to choosing and using a cutting board with chicken: Being sure it can be fully disinfected, and avoiding cross-contamination.
The best way to disinfect a cutting board is in the dishwasher, says Gerba, where the high heat and detergent will knock out any harmful bacteria. While a vigorous scrubbing by hand with a kitchen disinfectant and hot water can do the trick, the dishwasher is your best bet. Because of that, Gerba prefers plastic cutting boards to wooden ones. Just about any plastic one will do, as long as it fits in your dishwasher.
Buy: Cooler Kitchen Cutting Board Mats, $15 for four
To avoid cross-contamination, use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables. "You can get salmonella in a salad before you know it," says Gerba. If you have trouble keeping track, consider color-coded cutting boards, like these Cooler Kitchen Cutting Board Mats, which make it easy to keep track and are dishwasher safe.
Do you have a favorite plastic cutting board? Tell us about it in the comments below.