colored cutting board color code

Colored Cutting Boards for the Kitchen Help Prevent Contamination

Do you have more than one cutting board? Who doesn’t, right? Well, here’s a potential problem… bacterial contamination. And colored cutting boards for the kitchen can really help with that. Let me explain…

We used to have a few various cutting boards sitting on a counter somewhat near the sink, leaning against the side of a cabinet for easy access. The problem was, they were all white (HDPE food-safe plastic). Why was that less than ideal? Simply put, there’s a potential for cross contamination.

You really shouldn’t use the same cutting board for cutting meat, poultry, vegetables, seafood… There is a possibility for food-borne illness from cross contamination on your cutting boards. Contamination can occur as a result of bad habits. Poor cleaning. Cross contamination. Those knife cuts in the board can hold embedded bacteria too. It can happen easier than you might realize – and you won’t know it until it’s too late.

With that said, technically, if you properly wash or decontaminate a given cutting board prior to switching food types you’ll likely be okay. However, I really like the colored cutting boards even better.

Here is an important (and simple) health safety tip – how to keep your cutting boards safe from cross-contamination…

Colored Cutting Boards for Raw Meat, Raw Poultry, Fruit & Vegetables, Raw Seafood, Dairy & Bakery, and Cooked Meat

The idea is to use a specific colored cutting board for a particular food group.

HACCP color-coding colors to minimize cross-contamination

HACCP color coding is an effective way to prevent cross contamination and other food-related hazards in food processing facilities. So why not your home too?

Colored cutting boards are just one component of an overall Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program. “HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.” “HACCP color coding is a system that prevents cross contamination and other food-related hazards in the food industry and other food preparation facilities.”

Okay, lets get to it.

What do the colors mean on cutting boards?

I have seen slight variation on this as I have searched for a standard color code for cutting boards. And really, for the purpose of home use, the point is simply to pick a color code and stick to it. However, being the stickler that I am (sometimes), I had to find a standard. I researched San Jamar high quality colored cutting boards (my preferred, and that of many establishments). Here’s their HACCP color code for cutting board color versus food type.

RED (Raw Red Meat)

YELLOW (Raw Poultry)

GREEN (Fruits & Vegetables)

BLUE (Raw Seafood)

TAN (Cooked Meat)

WHITE (Dairy & Bakery)

Here’s a colored cutting board set from San Jamar. They have various dimension sets to choose from. I’ve got the 12×18.

Cutting Board Contamination

Even though you washed your cutting board, it doesn’t necessarily ensure that you got everything disinfected (the ‘bad’ stuff is invisible).

The tiny grooves in a cutting board caused by the knife provides a potential breeding ground for bacteria that may have resisted your last washing.

Tip: Disinfect everything that might have come in contact with raw chicken in the kitchen. Hot soapy water wipe down on the counter followed by bleach wipe-down. Wet (wringed out) sponge goes into the microwave for 1 minute afterwards, or the dishwasher. (See article links below)

How To Disinfect A Cutting Board

Except for wood boards, run it through the dishwasher. If your dishwasher has a high temperature ‘sanitary’ mode, that’s even better. Be sure that the cutting board is dishwasher safe. Some will warp! Tip: The San Jamar cutting boards will not warp. Commercial grade.

Or, wipe the cutting board with full-strength white vinegar after each use (after cleaning it). The acetic acid in the vinegar is a good disinfectant, effective against E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus.

Friction and disinfectant solution. There is no substitute for scrubbing off gross contaminants and using soap and disinfectant solution to remove the pathogens.

How To Deep Clean A Cutting Board

One way is to scrub it with a paste made from the following recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon water

Rinse thoroughly with hot water.

[ Read: Disinfectant Bleach-Water Ratio ]

[ Read: Best Way To Get Germs Off A Kitchen Sponge ]


  1. I have a better idea. Rather than spend $$$$ on several boards, buy one or two good ones. Then, go to Chinamart and buy a small trigger sprayer. Fill it with a mixture of white vinegar and vodka. After you use the cutting board for raw meat, spray it with the mixture, wipe it down and then chop your veggies or whatever. This system has worked for me for over 20 years.

    1. I use bamboo cutting board and scrub it with dish soap and a brush after use. I don’t have room on my counter for 6 cutting boards and the wife ain’t going for a stack of these 6 high. To each their own but I just don’t worry that much about bacteria from something like that. Most things I cut up are going to be cooked anyway

      1. Simple sanitation hoes a long ways, we dont have a bunch of boards either, one big one and a few smaller ones, use em for everything and anything, were jyst a cheap set from costco

  2. My dear Italian Wife bought a set of flexible cutting mats in different colors from Pamper Chief. They are like 9 x 11 and have a funky plastic surface on one side that sticks to the rock countertops. They actually work pretty well when her dumb miner husband remembers to use them to cut the right things on them.😜

  3. I have a large, medium, and small HDPE. My neighbor who is a butcher for an institution and has been for years told me to use hot water clorox and a veritable bush. Though I have put the small on in the dishwasher on ocation depending on what I used it for!
    This guy’s job there is to supply all the meat from hoof to plate every day. Beef, Pork, Lamb, etc, etc.

  4. I have multiple cutting boards, knives and bowls within my kitchen. I tend to use them and I wash as I go along with food preparation. I may use a splash of bleach in the wash water as I go along the day but mostly I use soap and warm/hot water. (Dawn dishwashing soap). The only people that did not wash dishes were either union card carrying chefs or people that took a cooking class and fancied themselves to be a chef. Most of us that have worked in restaurants, catering services, cafeterias in other capacities (prep cook, baker, saucier, grill man at a diner) were not union card carrying chefs and we had to stop cooking and do our own dishes when we ran low and the dishwasher called in sick (again). Most kitchen workers have to pull off the apron and take out their own trash too. I never worked in a kitchen that was this well organized. Most were pretty f$#*ed up and the knives were dull. I never wore whites or the chef’s toque. In SoCal restaurants, I was in the kitchen wearing jeans and T-shirt beneath a borrowed apron, a baseball cap or hairnet and I wore a mask when working with processing food for consumption pre-pandemic. Learning to cook and plate for 1-200 customers as part of a team of kitchen workers is a valuable job skill and this was one of the deciding factors that got me hired on a fire crew as a young man. In a civil service job where there are 2000 applicants for each position, you need some type of work experience that makes you stand out in a line of healthy, trained young men and women.

  5. i have always thought that most food poison issues were not to undercooked food but not using a clean plate, spatula, and other utensils when plating the food. too many people use the same ones in prep, cook and then serving.

Comments are closed.