Choosing the Perfect Custom Board

Jun 26th 2024

How to Choose the Right Custom Plastic Cutting Board for Your Restaurant

A restaurant kitchen thrives on efficiency and safety. Every piece of equipment, from ovens to spatulas, plays a role in this delicate dance. Cutting boards, though seemingly simple, are crucial tools that impact both aspects. Choosing the right custom plastic cutting board can streamline your prep work, minimize cross-contamination risks, and protect your knives. This guide equips you with the knowledge to select the perfect plastic cutting boards for your restaurant needs.

The Big Three: Size, Thickness, and Material

Before diving into color-coding, let's explore the fundamental characteristics of a good custom plastic cutting board.

Size:

  • Workstation Considerations: Consider the available workspace and how many chefs typically work in an area. A large board might seem ideal, but it can create congestion in tight spaces. Conversely, a small board might necessitate frequent cleaning and board changes, disrupting workflow.
  • Food Prep Needs: Think about the types of food prepped on the board. Chopping herbs requires less surface area than butchering whole chickens. Opt for a variety of sizes to accommodate different tasks.
  • Storage: Remember, these boards need storage. Ensure you have adequate space for the chosen sizes, whether stacked or hanging on designated racks.

Thickness:

  • Stability and Durability: A thicker board offers more stability during chopping and carving, preventing wobbling or slipping. Thicker boards also tend to last longer as they resist nicks and dents from knives better.
  • Storage and Handling: While thicker boards are sturdier, they can be cumbersome to store and handle, especially for smaller staff members.

Material:

  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE): The industry standard for restaurant cutting boards, HDPE is known for its durability, resistance to warping and cracking, and ease of cleaning. It's also readily available and comes in a variety of thicknesses and colors.
  • Nylon: A budget-friendly option, nylon boards are lightweight and dishwasher-safe. However, they tend to show knife marks more readily and may not be as durable as HDPE in high-volume kitchens.

Finding the Perfect Balance:

There's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to size, thickness, and material. The ideal combination depends on your specific needs and kitchen setup. Consider creating a system with a variety of board sizes in a medium thickness (think 1/2 inch) of HDPE for maximum versatility and durability.

The Power of Color-Coding

Color-coding your custom plastic cutting boards is a simple yet effective way to prevent cross-contamination, a critical food safety measure. Here's how it works:

  • Assign Specific Colors to Food Groups: The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) recommends a color-coded system for cutting boards. Common color assignments include:
    • Red: Raw Meat
    • Yellow: Poultry
    • Blue: Seafood
    • Green: Fruits and Vegetables
    • White: Bread and Bakery
  • Benefits of Color-Coding: This visual cue reinforces safe food handling practices for staff, especially during busy periods. It also minimizes the risk of using a contaminated board for the wrong food group, preventing potential outbreaks.
  • Customization Options: Many suppliers offer custom plastic cutting boards with pre-molded colored cores or engraved labels. This ensures the color coding is permanent and doesn't fade over time.

Implementing the System:

  • Develop a Training Program: Educate your staff on the color-coding system and its importance in preventing cross-contamination.
  • Visual Cues: Post signage in your prep areas that clearly outlines the color-coded system and its corresponding food groups.
  • Storage Solutions: Invest in storage racks or designated areas for each color-coded board to maintain organization and prevent accidental mixing.

Additional Considerations

  • Non-Slip Features: Consider boards with textured surfaces or rubber feet to enhance stability and prevent slipping during use.
  • Liquid Collection Grooves: If you frequently work with juicy meats or fruits, boards with built-in grooves can help contain liquids and prevent cross-contamination.
  • Knife Friendliness: Choose a material that offers a balance between durability and knife-friendliness. While a very hard board might be long-lasting, it can dull knives quickly.

By carefully considering size, thickness, material, and color-coding, you can select custom plastic cutting boards that optimize your restaurant's workflow and prioritize food safety. Remember, the right cutting boards are an investment that pays off in terms of efficiency, staff health, and customer satisfaction.