Chopping boards: does the colour really matter?

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th May 2016

A Facebook feud where chefs discussed how one of them was 'told off' for using the wrong coloured chopping board for preparing meat struck our attention. So, we took to finding out what guidelines you should be following when using chopping boards. 


The catering equipment suppliers association (CESA) says that you an avoid allergic reactions by “removing or reducing cross contamination which may arise from shared equipment” one way of doing this is by using colour coded knives and chopping boards.

Kieth Warren, director of CESA, says: "My understanding is that it is not a regulation that you have to use a particular colour with a particular food product. It is not mandated, but there is guidance that suggests that certain colours should only be  used with certain foods and that prevails across the industry."

This current accepted coding in the UK is:

Yellow – Cooked meat

Red – Raw meat

White – Bread/Dairy

Blue – Raw fish

Green – Fruit/Salad

Brown – Raw Veg

Julian Edwards, CEO at Allergen Accreditation, agrees: "It is best practise to set a guide for chefs when they prepare different foods, especially for chopping. This is because we must all actively protect consumers and reducing the chance of cross contamination by using coloured chopping boards is one way to achieve this."

The Law

When it comes to the law regarding chopping boards, Julian says: "Technically any colour can be used for any product allowing that it is then cleaned and disinfected before being used for another product."

Though the law does not say any particular colour has to be used for certain foods, Keith says that it is still important that the kitchen sticks to one code:

"Some will bring knowledge from other jobs where they use red chopping boards for red meat, so if they move into an establishment where they use red chopping boards for something else, it's going to cause the potential for contamination."

Julian agrees, pointing out that problems could arise if a member of the public that knows the code sees a chef using a different colour than expected. Even if the board is perfectly safe and disinfected, he says: "it could lead to a complaint or query and could present the business as being un-professional."

However, using different coloured boards is not a substitute for attentive cleaning since chefs also need to avoid allergen contamination, not just food poisoning.chopping boards

The Allergen Accreditation say: "These need to be cleaned and disinfected between processes as well as not left out dirty for long periods of time; a kitchen is a warm place and bacteria will grow."

Julian adds: "If we take a white board- for breads and dairy use... once the white board has been used for bread slicing it needs to be cleaned and disinfected before any cheese is sliced on it.  (When the cheese is meant for a wheat free product for example)"


The CESA director insists that staff training is key, he says: "What we’re really looking to do is to prevent someone who’s got an allergy to one of those in the list of 14 allergens getting it in their food or drink. So, it’s about having a structure and system in place within the kitchen, with all of the staff knowing what that system and structure is to ensure that it doesn't happen."

Some caterers have taken to using purple chopping boards, knives and areas to prepare anti-allergen specific foods. Though this does not completely eliminate cross contamination,

Julian says: "It does add another dimension to chef awareness of avoiding cross contact of allergens and like the use of general colour coded boards can be a useful tool!"

The Allergen Accreditation requires kitchens to have written policies, irrespective of the choice of chopping boards. Their CEO says: "This can be prepared and issued to all staff as a training session that they all sign up to. Record this training!"

Keith adds that it is not just kitchen staff that need to be allergen trained, but the front of house too: "[They] have got to know what they're dealing with, what the allergen issues are because they are the communicator to what's going on to the back of house and the customer."

By Kellie Wyatt

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th May 2016

Chopping boards: does the colour really matter?