Are Plastic Cutting Boards Toxic?
Plastic cutting boards or polypropylene cutting boards are made from synthetic plastic, and they are the most economical choice for many households. Plastic holds up well to regular use, and the best cutting board for traditional kitchens is plastic.
The best plastic cutting board does not contain harmful compounds that leach outward when heated or damaged by the knife’s edge. Not all plastic cutting boards are durable – you have to select the ones made from the best type of plastic so they can hold up to the punishment of being used for cutting and slicing. Plastic cutting boards are also an optimal choice for people who want to use a glue-free cutting board.
What Is Plastic Cutting Board Material?
Modern plastic cutting boards are made from either HDPE or polyethylene. HDPE refers to high-density polyethylene. Virgin or non-recycled HDPE is the most suitable for products that come into contact with food. HDPE is evaluated as food-grade and does not have the harmful BPA banned in many countries because of the possible health issues to both children and adults.
Should you have an HDPE cutting board at home, you shouldn’t worry at all because you made the right choice. HDPE cutting boards are easy to spot: they’re thick, have good color, and last for years. Well-designed plastic cutting boards made of HDPE can last as long as wooden cutting boards.
It’s really up to the user’s care about how long plastic boards will last because they do not rot, unlike wood.
Plastic cutting boards are also naturally impervious to waters, and they have high heat tolerance as well. Unless you’re going to place your plastic cutting board atop an open flame, you shouldn’t have any problems.
HDPE is used for a variety of containers and product packages precisely because the material is food-safe. Manufacturers now typically avoid issues with the type of plastic they use because there is now more aware of what plastics are safe and potentially toxic. Variations in plastics’ chemical composition mean we should all stick to plastics that are food-safe and will not leach or release toxic compounds to our food.
Additionally, well-designed HDPE boards have higher cut tolerances and are more durable than other plastics. In the United States, the FDA has sanctioned that HDPE is safe for contact with food.
One of the biggest advantages of virgin HDPE plastic is that it is highly resistant to corrosion and will barely absorb water no matter how long it is drenched in water. It’s a great plastic for preventing bacteria from seeping into its microscopic cracks with smaller pores on the surface because it is naturally antimicrobial because of its physical structure.
This is not to say that other plastics will pose a threat to your family. For example, did you know that polypropylene plastic has also been evaluated to be safe for food contact since 2013?
Polypropylene is another high-quality plastic product that doesn’t deserve all the bad rap about plastic. Recycling notwithstanding, these plastics are durable and won’t cause harm to your family under normal use.
How Often Should Plastic Cutting Boards Be Replaced?
On average, plastic cutting boards should be replaced at least once a year. As the plastic’s surface takes damage from repeated slicing and cutting, there may be some form of gaps in the material that may allow food particles to get in.
While the plastic resin will remain physically stable because it doesn’t react to physical trauma on a chemical level, bacteria and other pathogens can take refuge in the physical gaps on the board’s surface. Keep in mind that this can happen to a variety of materials, not just plastic.
The great thing about plastic cutting boards is they are very affordable, so it’s possible to replace them even more frequently without breaking the bank. Compare the price of plastic cutting boards with high-end wooden cutting boards, and you’ll get the picture.
If you don’t want to spend a hundred dollars or more on a single purchase for a cutting board, plastic cutting boards are a great alternative because they’re food-safe and they won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Refreshing a Plastic Board
Let’s say that you want to refresh your plastic cutting board. Can this be done safely? Fortunately, yes, you can refresh your plastic cutting board if you have the time for it. You will use the plastic’s entire surface by removing the nicks and all that knife damage on the outermost layer of the plastic.
You can clean the surface more effectively by using durable steel wool. Choose the coarsest steel wool that you can find for this. Work on the surface as much as you can before be shifting over to coarse sandpaper. In the beginning, it might be a tough task because the plastic will be resisting the intrusion of the steel wool.
After a while, the thin plastic layer that has been worn out will be eased out, and that’s when you can use the sandpaper to finish off the plastic board’s refreshing. We recommend going as deep as needed to remove all traces of knife activity on the surface.
We want to level the plastic cutting board so there would be no nicks and cracks on the surface anymore. These small nicks make plastic cutting boards unsafe after a few months because small bits of food can get in them.
We recommend getting an electric sander to get consistent results and to speed up the job. 25-grit is ideal for the majority of the sanding task, and then move up to 80-grit when you are about done with leveling the plastic cutting board. Take note that as you work on the surface of the board, you’re going to begin smelling the food residue. Cover your nose if you need to.