Chopping Boards for Food Safety Explained

Why Are Different Chopping Boards Needed?

Cross-contamination between foods is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness. It happens when harmful bacteria from one foodstuff is transferred to another through tools, utensils, hands or work surfaces.

That’s why colour-coded chopping boards are essential in any kitchen. They let chefs prepare low and high-risk foods without the risk of cross-contamination. Plus, in a professional kitchen where speed is critical, the colours let chefs instantly recognise where they can (or can’t) prepare certain foods.

You can extend the colour system to other essential utensils like knives for extra protection.

Food Safety Training

ComplyPro Food safety course provides trainees a thorough understanding of food safety and hygiene guidelines, the facts about food hygiene and the key roles and duties of responsible persons to maintain food hygiene.

Types of Chopping Boards

Colours aren’t the only thing that chefs consider when choosing the right chopping board for the task at hand. The material the chopping board is made from also plays a factor, with plastic and wood being the two main options.

Most people would opt for a plastic chopping board when preparing high-risk foods such as raw meats, believing it to be more hygienic.

However, experts are split on the truth of the matter.

Some believe plastic boards are more hygienic because they’re non-porous and easier to clean properly.

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Others claim wooden boards are more hygienic due to their natural ability to absorb and smother microbes, preventing them from reproducing.

Really, it’s up to you to decide which type of chopping board you like to use for different tasks. As long as you maintain it in good order and use the colour system.

Chopping Board Colours

No legislation requires kitchens to use colour-coded chopping boards. But it’s a widely accepted practice because it’s a simple way reduce cross-contamination.

Among other key insights, our food safety training course helps you to know your chopping board colours to improve your kitchen’s hygiene. The colours have a logic, which you’ll understand as you learn what each board is for.

Red – Uncooked Meats

Use red chopping boards for raw meat and poultry. As one of the most likely sources of foodborne illness, these boards must be well maintained and used only for uncooked meats.

Yellow – Cooked Meats and Fish

You should use yellow chopping boards exclusively for cooked meat and fish. You mustn’t ever use them to prepare raw animal products to keep food safety standards at an acceptable level.

White – Dairy and Baked Goods

White chopping boards have dual use and are used for dairy and bakery items. This makes them suitable for everything from cutting cake to grating cheese.

But be mindful of potential allergens. Dairy is typical, so washing the board between uses is essential. You can also have two dedicated chopping boards (one for dairy and one for baked items), but this might not be very clear for you or your team. For safety’s sake, it might be best to only use a white chopping board for foodstuff that is not an allergen.

Blue – Uncooked Fish

Blue chopping boards are for uncooked fish. As another high-risk food, you must only use your blue board for raw seafood. You must also put extra effort into cleaning them regularly and keeping them in good condition.

Brown – Root Vegetables

Brown chopping boards are where you should be preparing any uncooked root vegetables. These foodstuffs will often have traces of soil left on them, which means they’re likely to spread microbes. Keep them isolated on brown chopping boards only.

Purple – Free-From Foods

Purple boards are for ‘free-from’ foods – products and items specifically for allergy sufferers or those with food intolerance. Using a board exclusively for these foodstuffs prevents cross-contamination of allergens, not harmful microbes.

And since allergens are as risky for certain people as microbes are for others, it’s good practice to use purple boards correctly in your kitchen.

A prominently displayed poster in the kitchen helps to remind staff to use the correct colour chopping board during food preparation.

When to Replace Your Chopping Board

Other than colours, the most important thing you need to consider is the condition of the chopping board when preparing food.

Food Safety Training - chopping boards
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You should replace any chopping board if:

  • It has deep scratches or scores – deep scratches are impossible to clean thoroughly and give microbes a safe haven to live and reproduce; this is particularly problematic for plastic boards

It can’t lay flat on a surface – heavily used chopping boards gradually lose shape and will eventually warp, making it unsafe to chop food on