A cutting board is one of those kitchen items that we use every day and completely take for granted! Just chop up your dinner, wash or wipe it, pop it away and forget all about it.
But did you know that some commonly used cutting boards may actually be toxic, for many different reasons?
So, how do you know which are the very best non-toxic chopping boards? The safest chopping boards are free from toxic chemicals/finishes and have surfaces that won’t damage your knives. It is also important to avoid any cutting boards that are marketed as antibacterial. Boards that contain natural antibacterial properties are fine.
Read on to learn why some cutting boards may be toxic or harmful, and find out all about the best non-toxic cutting boards!
What Is A Cutting Board?
Apologies if we are stating the obvious here, but what exactly is a cutting board? A cutting board is a solid and durable board used for preparing food. This includes chopping up ingredients, both raw and cooked.
This means that your cutting board has to withstand some serious work! The surface must be able to withstand the pressure of a knife, without sustaining any major cuts or damage. It must also be hygienic and easy to clean.
Cutting boards, or chopping boards, come in various widths and sizes. Some people have a large chopping board that remains on the work surface at all times, others prefer a smaller one which can be stored in a cupboard after use.
We’re sure there aren’t many of you reading this who don’t have a cutting board in your kitchen, but have you ever wondered if it might be time for an upgrade?
Cutting boards do an enormous amount of work and most of us use them every day, so let’s make sure we’re using the best possible cutting board we can get!
Why Are Some Cutting Boards Unsafe?
This might sound alarming, but some cutting boards are made from potentially unsafe materials. This is very worrying, considering that we use them every day!
These toxic materials can have the potential to harm your health, even damaging vital organs such as the liver and kidneys. Scary stuff!
So, how do you know which cutting boards are safe to use?
Unfortunately, even the labeling of the board might be misleading.
For example, a board claiming to be made from eco-friendly bamboo is very likely to contain formaldehyde! And that fancy antibacterial board you’ve got your eye on may contain harsh chemicals.
And what about bacteria—should we worry about contamination of our chopping boards? This is why many people tend to assume that plastic boards are safer, as they appear to be easier to keep clean. However, this is not always correct!
When it comes to choosing the best non-toxic cutting board, you really do need to be a savvy shopper. It is essential to learn how to look past the snazzy advertising claims and find out exactly what your board is made from.
The best place to start is by learning what to avoid, so let’s go there first!
Materials To Avoid When Choosing A Non-Toxic Cutting Board
We’re sorry if this next section reads a bit like a kitchen-based horror story, but some terrible things may be lurking inside many commonly used cutting boards!
Now, this may not mean that you need to ditch your old cutting board and buy a new one immediately. There are steps you can take to keep you and your family safe, such as avoiding putting hot food onto cutting boards.
However, if your cutting board is deeply scratched, it is more likely to leach chemicals. If this sounds like your everyday cutting board, it might be time to go shopping!
Here are the materials to avoid if you are looking for a non-toxic cutting board:
Antibacterial Cutting Boards
Surely there is no safer option than an antibacterial cutting board? The idea that a board that is marketed as ultra-safe could be harmful is absolutely crazy!
The problem with antimicrobial cutting boards is that they contain a substance called Microban. This is a chemical called triclosan, which does have very good antimicrobial properties.
However, triclosan is not a pleasant chemical! When it is on your chopping board it will do a great job of keeping it safe and sanitary. However, it is when it is ingested that the problems start.
Studies in animals have shown that triclosan can disrupt the endocrine system (these are the hormones that regulate all of your body systems).
It may also be linked to an increase in cancerous cells, and problems with the cardiovascular system. Scary stuff!
It is important to note that the U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA) is monitoring the use of triclosan in food and cosmetic products, such as toothpaste and hand sanitizers.
However, the use of triclosan in kitchenware is not regulated by the FDA.
The other concern with the use of antibacterial chopping boards is that they may contribute to the creation of superbugs!
These are bacteria that are resistant to antibacterial substances, and they are a big concern to the human healthcare sector.
Plastic Cutting Boards
Many of us have used plastic cutting boards, as they seem so easy to clean! They are also lightweight and convenient to store. But why might plastic cutting boards be unsafe?
Sadly, plastic cutting boards may be one of the most unsafe materials to use! There are 2 reasons for this.
Firstly, plastic cutting boards can be easily damaged by knives. Even the most robust plastic surface can develop scratches over time, and these can harbor dangerous bacteria.
This occurs because plastic cannot absorb moisture. Any bacteria simply sit on the surface of the plastic, often hidden inside scratches caused by your knives.
When you pop something onto the board to chop it up, it will quickly be contaminated these dangerous pathogens.
The second problem is the material that plastic cutting boards are made from. The most common material for plastic cutting boards is polyethylene. This is generally viewed as a safer type of plastic, free from harmful BPA.
However studies have shown that whilst polyethylene is BPA free, it may leach a different chemical called DEHA. This is linked to health problems such as liver damage.
So, when might this leaching occur? The problems start when you use your plastic cutting board to cut up hot items of food. The heat will start a chemical reaction, causing chemicals within the plastic to be absorbed by the food.
This scenario gets even worse when your cutting board is old and scratched! So chopping up a steaming hot roast chicken on an old and scratched plastic cutting board can pose a significant health risk.
If you do have a plastic chopping board, there are ways to use it safely. Make sure it is sanitized thoroughly after each use, and avoid putting hot food onto the board.
If your plastic chopping board develops deep knife marks it should be discarded.
Cutting Boards With Hidden Toxic Components
You might also come across wood composite chopping boards, made from binding small pieces of wood fiber together.
Also known as epicurean cutting boards, they are generally marketed as eco-friendly, as they are made with waste wood products.
However, there is a problem with composite wood, and it stems from the chemicals used to bind them together.
Manufactures use a binding resin to glue the wood fibers or sheets together, and this contains formaldehyde. Not something we want leaching into our food, we’re sure you’ll agree!
Bamboo cutting boards have been around for a few years now, and many of us love them for their lightweight and wood-effect surface. But is there a problem with these as well?
Unfortunately, there is—nasty old formaldehyde again! Many bamboo cutting boards contain a melamine-formaldehyde resin to bind the thin strips of bamboo together.
Cutting Boards With Toxic Finishes
It is not just what’s in your board that counts, but also what is put onto it. Wood and bamboo cutting boards are often treated with a finishing product, and you may even have a product that you apply to your board to keep it as good as new.
Stay away from boards that have been treated with chemical-based wood stains, particularly those with acrylic or urethane binders.
You also need to avoid cutting board treatments made from unrefined, petroleum-based mineral oil.
There are plenty of safe non-toxic oils for treating cutting boards, such as walnut oil, beeswax, and refined coconut oil.
The Ultimate Guide To The Very Best Non-Toxic Cutting Boards
So now we know what to avoid, how can we find the very best non-toxic chopping boards? Here are the very best you can buy, along with our top picks for each type!
Wood Cutting Boards
When the plastic revolution came around, many people ditched their wooden chopping boards and switched to plastic ones instead.
But, as with many things, it seems that plastic isn’t always fantastic! When it comes to keeping our food safe, it appears that wood is a far better option.
Most people look at wooden boards and think that they are hard to clean. And yes, they do get marks from knives, but that all helps their anti-bacterial properties!
When you cut food on a wooden chopping board, wood actually fights bacteria. The grain of the wood pulls in and traps bacteria under the cutting surface, where it dies within minutes.
This is far superior to plastic, where bacteria lurk in knife grooves, multiplying happily!
Wooden chopping boards are also good for protecting knives and are highly durable and resilient. And if you think they are beginning to look unsightly, you can just lightly sand them and apply a new coat of oil or wax.
The only downside to wooden chopping boards is that they do need regular oiling, but this is all part of the experience of owning a beautiful chopping board!
As with everything, there are a few factors you need to bear in mind when buying a wood chopping board:
End-grain cutting boards (where the cut end of the wood is the surface of the board) have better antibacterial properties than edge-grain boards. They are also better for keeping your knives sharp and have a longer lifespan.
The best types of wood for cutting boards are hardwoods, in particular maple, walnut, beech, and teak. Avoid softwoods such as pine and cedar.
Here are our top 3 picks for the best wood chopping boards:
Prime Teak Wood Cutting Board
This beautiful solid wood cutting board is made from teak and finished with beeswax and coconut oil polish.
The manufacturers claim that this board will last for over fifty years, and have included a block of wax to keep your board in the best possible condition.
John Boos Maple Classic Reversible Wood End Grain Chopping Block
This hefty chopping board is so heavy that you’ll want to leave it in place on your work surface all day long!
Luckily it is absolutely beautiful and would look impressive on any kitchen counter.
Large Walnut End Grain Cutting Board
There is something about walnut wood that gives a classier finish than many other cutting boards.
The dark wood of this end grain cutting board is sleek and stylish and will give you a durable and safe cutting surface for many years.
Natural Rubber Cutting Boards
It might sound like an odd material for a cutting board, but natural rubber has many unique benefits. This material is low-maintenance, non-toxic, and will not blunt your knives.
Rubber does not crack or split and does not absorb any liquids. It is all-natural, and will not leach any chemicals into your food.
And if your rubber cutting board becomes riddled with knife marks, simply lightly sand them out!
Unfortunately, natural rubber cutting boards are not very commonplace, and there are few manufacturers of them at the moment. However, we’ve sourced the best one for you right here!
NoTrax Sani-Tuff Premium Rubber Cutting Board
This is the smallest natural rubber cutting board in the NoTrax range, but they do have larger sizes available.
These professional-grade cutting boards are popular with chefs, so you know that you are getting the best possible quality!
Formaldehyde-Free Bamboo Cutting Boards
For those of you who love your bamboo cutting boards, luckily there are formaldehyde-free alternatives available!
However, bamboo does have its downsides when it comes to comparing them to wooden cutting boards. The surface is harder and will cause more wear and tear to your knives, which is not a problem if you own a good knife sharpener.
Oh, and don’t be fooled by bamboo cutting boards that say they are organic! This simply means that the bamboo used is organic, and they may still contain formaldehyde.
Here are our top picks for the best formaldehyde-free bamboo chopping boards:
Greener Chef Bamboo Cutting Board
You really can’t go wrong with a lifetime warranty! This beautiful bamboo cutting board is chemical-free and organic, and will not warp, split or crack.
To keep your board in the best possible condition, treat it regularly with the manufacturers food-grade cooking board oil.
EZMO One-piece Bamboo Cutting Board
This beautiful bamboo cutting board has been cleverly crafted with a single sheet of bamboo on the surface, meaning the cutting area is free from glues and chemicals.
Made with organic bamboo, this reversible board will meet all your kitchen food prep requirements.
Other Non-Toxic Cutting Boards To Consider
There are other types of non-toxic cutting boards you might consider, but these are not for everyone.
When it comes to non-toxic and hygienic, stone and glass cutting boards come top of the list every time. They are non-porous, easy to clean, and highly scratch-resistant.
However, these materials have fallen out of fashion for use as cutting boards, and we can see why. There are a couple of small but very significant problems with stone and glass when it comes to chopping boards!
Firstly, these very tough surfaces will destroy your knife blades. They will become blunt very quickly, making it difficult to slice through food easily.
Stone and glass are also very heavy, and cannot be moved easily. And if you do happen to drop them, they may shatter and cause some serious damage!
If you’ve got your heart set on a stone or glass cutting board, here are our top picks:
Greenco White Marble Pastry and Cutting Board
This beautiful marble cutting board would look amazing in any kitchen!
The non-slip rubber feet will keep it secure on your worktop and can be easily wiped clean after use.
Tempered Black Glass Cutting Board
If you’re going for a glass chopping board, this is one of the safest options you can get!
Tempered glass is strengthened, heat resistant, and shatter-resistant. It also has non-slip rubber feet to prevent accidental slips.
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