Question for those with butcher block prep space

Kitten1313June 25, 2013

Do you put raw meats on it? I think it might be difficult to sanitize butcher block, but to me, the point of BB is that you CAN cut on it. Maybe just have a separate cutting board for meats?

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I cut everything but uncooked chicken on my Maple prep counter. For that I use a separate block that I can wash.
Have used this counter this way for 27 years, it has only had mineral oil on it.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 12:28PM
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I cut everything on my built-in cutting board, even raw chicken and raw meat. In between cutting different things, I wash it off with a damp, soapy sponge or just a wet paper towel, depending on what it was. I treat the board periodically with mineral oil, too. None of us has had a food borne illness in years, so maybe our immune systems are used to it, or maybe it's good enough.

I thought there was something about wood being naturally antimicrobial.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:58PM
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I don't own butcher block counters, but I know plenty about bacteria. The bottom line is that you must exercise appropriate food hygiene regardless of the surface you work on, and you can and should bleach butcher block counters when you've had raw meat or unwashed produce on them.

For clarification purposes, anti-microbial refers to a substance that either kills bacteria (bacteriocidal), OR simply keeps them from multiplying (bacteriostatic). Maple butcher block was found in one study to be bacteriostatic (more than you can say of solid surface). If you get bacteria on your block from chopping raw meat and don't sanitize the board, they will remain and can possibly cross-contaminate, say, lettuce that you eat (generally speaking) raw. This could mean a Tummy Bummer, or a serious problem for the immunocompromised, elderly or young kids.

But the great thing about wood is that you can bleach it. 10% bleach for 10 minutes is the general rule of thumb for decontamination, and there are many commercially available bacteriocides on the market for home use as well..

One last note - I said raw meat or unwashed produce. Most people don't give a thought to the latter and probably find this a little OCD, but unwashed produce is filthy - and potentially lethal. I had a friend who made fun of me because I always wash the outside of melons before I cut them. Remember the listeria outbreak two summers ago? He doesn't mock me anymore.

Your counters will be fine, and keeping them bacteria-free should be pretty straight forward.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:20AM
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Thank you. I didn't realize you could sanitize wood by bleaching. I usually scrub the crap out of it and hope for the best.

Ginny20, I"m not hugely careful and I, too, seem to have a digestion of steel. But that's probably more luck than anything. I'd like to start utilizing better practices.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:06AM
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