Re: cork cutting boards

I can't imagine why any pathologist or pathologist's assistant would cut 
tissue on a surface of wood, cork, or paper. One touch of a new or newly 
sharpened blade on one of these surfaces dulls it. Polyethylene (polythene, 
Brits) is so soft that it doesn't dull a blade. The difference is enormous. 

Since pathologists rarely have them, I usually buy a polyethylene cutting 
board at a kitchen store when I start a new job. It's difficult to find 
boards of sufficiently soft polyethylene, and without cutesy-poo pictures of 
mushrooms and tomatoes, a handle hole (which specimens fall into), or what I 
call a "filth groove" - a groove around the edge for crud to collect in. 
These things cost about US $7. Supposedly you can get more suitable 
polyethylene cut to order at a restaurant supply store, but I doubt a 
pathologist could get away with that.

Boards can be cleaned with bleach - undiluted works better to remove blood 
and tissue residue - at the end of the working day. Inks, particularly india 
ink, eventually discolor the board. 

Restaurants are now prohibited from cutting on wood, because it cannot be 
disinfected satisfactorily. When I started doing Chinese cooking about 25 
years ago, I used to cut on wood, sharpening my old dirty-steel blades 
myself. When the late great Chinese cook and author Joyce Chen recommended 
that all Chinese cooks change to polyethylene, I took her advice. I was 
amazed at how much less sharpening I had to do.

The persistence of wood in cutting areas is one more example of the failure 
of regulators to deal with the processes pathologists actually have their 
hands on. You'd never get away with wood in a microbiology lab.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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