Food Safety: Cutting Remarks

The chairman of your cutting boards speaks out.

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Hello happy readers of Hotel F&B. It’s Woody, your trusted hard maple cutting board, with Polly, my polypropylene bride board. We have been elected as spokespersons and representatives for all of the cutting boards within your operations. We heard that the kitchen towels, sanitation pails, and spray bottles got some space in the last issue and we demanded some equal time.

You call upon us often to soften the repetitive strokes from that $150 knife you use and not ruin that razor edge. And you just drop that raw piece of meat, fish, or poultry on top of us and have your way by chopping, dicing, slicing, and fileting without a second thought. Oh, and then there is the cleaver.

Both of us see ourselves as cutting boards; we are the same but different. You need to see us that way as well. Polly tells me that I am high-maintenance. She then reminds me how I can be porous and can more easily absorb those nasty bacteria trapped in all the raw meat juices, and that I am not fond of being soaked in a sink of detergent or put through the dish machine. I just am not built to be soaked, but I need to be cleaned and sanitized.

Then there are the mineral oil rub downs that I need [and enjoy] to fill my pores so the bacteria have fewer places to hide and are more easily removed.

Polly, on the other hand, just loves the pot sink and a good hot bath from the dish machine. Have at her with a stiff bristle brush in the pot sink.

We are both softies when it comes to knives and cleavers. I think Polly is a little softer though. We expect to get some knife cuts as part of our daily lives. We need for you to keep track of those cuts and knife scores and make the hard call as to when we need to be taken out of circulation.

We both want you to keep in mind that when our buddy the damp towel is used to stabilize us [unless you use one of Polly’s cousins with the soft grip corners] that he can get soaked with whatever runs off of us and contaminate our underside. If you are thinking of flipping us over so you can use the non-contaminated side, PLEASE think again.

Polly keeps reminding me that she comes in colors to help control the potential for cross contamination. I am brown.

Speaking of contamination and bacterial growth, please change us out at least every two hours so the bacteria that have grown on us from the processing can be removed by cleaning and sanitizing properly.

Please do not stack us wet. Polly and I need to be stored vertical so we are held as dry as possible and do not mold or provide an opportunity for bacteria to grow on or in those knife cuts you cannot see but are there.

If you do store us on a rack, but on a lower shelf of the preparation table, please tell your cleaning staff to not make us suffer from mop splash as they are cleaning the floors.

Thank you ahead of time for taking good care of us and for paying attention to some basic practices that will keep us looking good and your food safer.

Norm FaiolaNorm Faiola is director of graduate programs and professor of practice at the Madden School of Business at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York. Contact him at nafaiola@gmail.com.