Here’s a TikTok trend that you’d “butter” be careful about. It’s the “Butter board” trend that has folks slathering gobs of butter on cutting boards and dumping sauces, spices, fruits, and other stuff on top of said butter. People are then using pieces of bread or bread-like products to scoop up these concoctions off the boards and into their mouths. If you search TikTok for the hashtag #butterboard, you’ll get a butter-load of videos with a total of 236.9 million views and counting. Before you deem this to be the best thing since sliced bread, though, you’d “butter” beware of the potential hazards of this spreading trend.
Now, TikTok videos such as the following are calling “butter boards” extensions of or even improvements over traditional charcuterie boards:
Hmmm, let’s clarify the fact that smearing butter on a wooden board ain’t exactly the same as a traditional charcuterie board, which is essentially a platter holding a bunch of cheeses, meats, dried fruits, and other things such as jams. There are several potential key differences between many of these “butter boards” on TikTok and your run-of-the-mill charcuterie boards that could end up making your stomach churn.
First of all, the whole “butter board” thing is not exactly above board. By smearing the butter into the wooden board, the butter may go into the various crack and crevices in the wood. This is very different from traditional charcuterie boards, where people don’t tend to smear brie, chevre, camembert cheddar, gouda, or manchego cheese into the board’s cracks. Cracks of any sort can be kind of gross. They tend to be dark and dank, providing good conditions for nasty microbes to grow. A study published in the Journal of Food Protection showed how easily bacteria such as Escherichia coli , Listeria innocua, L. monocytogenes, and Salmonella typhimurium can stay and multiply in wooden cutting boards. Think about that the next time that you get the urge to lick a charcuterie board at a party.
Add butter at room temperature into the cracks in the wooden board and you’ve basically built a cheap motel for microbes to have their version of sexy time and reproduce. Being a breeding ground for bacteria is yet another reason why using butter that’s been sitting out for a while as toothpaste is not a great idea. Scooping up butter out of the cracks of a wooden board could in turn be scooping up a bunch of board bacteria that won’t be so bored once they get into your gastrointestinal tract. This could be a you butter, you butter, you bet situation where you’re essentially playing diarrhea roulette and gambling on getting some kind of infection. So if you are going to smear butter on a wooden board, make sure that the board doesn’t have any cracks.
Secondly, many of these “butter boards” on TikTok seem to include a butt-load of butter. For example, the woman in the following TikTok video smeared butter on her board like as if it were cheese on a pizza:
Yeah, eating so much butter would not be the same as eating a few pieces of salami, prosciutto, Italian speck, hot dogs, or cheese. Think of how many calories and how much saturated fat would be in such a load. That’s why you don’t regularly see sticks of butter on a charcuterie board, eat butter sandwiches, or order butter as a topping on your pizza. Over time, too much butter in your diet could ;eave you in a butter luck tomorrow situation, eventually putting you at higher risk for obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic medical conditions.
A third issue is the “everybody, everybody” black box problem with butter boards. When multiple people are snacking off a butter board, you may not know how much double-dipping, triple-dipping, quadruple dipping, and other types of communal contamination may be happening. For example, take a look at how much smearing is going on with only two people sharing a “butter board” in the following TikTok video:
Imagine what might happen when even more folks are sharing such a “butter board,” such as what might happen at a party. It can be a bit like multiple people trying to eat from the same hot dog directly with their mouths, kinda gross. Each person can end up leaving his or her germs on board, so to speak, for everyone to share with each other. This would be very different from your typical charcuterie board situation where people tend to quickly grab the items that they want with minimal touching of the board and the other items on the board. So, if you are going to do the whole “butter board” thing with others, you may want to first make sure that some spooning occurs, meaning provide some clean spoons so that people can first scoop the items off the board so that they are not directly touching the board with their fingers or their bread.
This “Butter board” trend has melted into other similar offshoots as well. Some folks have been spreading other smearable substances such as cream cheese, goat cheese, Nutella, and the always delightful vegemite on their wooden boards and topping them with all sorts of things. For example, the following TikTok video showed a different type of “butter board,” a “peanut butter board” that’s kind of nuts as you can see:
Again before you get on board with any of these possibilities, think about the risks. If you’d like to enjoy some cream cheese, goat cheese, peanut butter or any other smearable substance mixed with other things, eating it off of a wooden board may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Why not use a relatively non-porous surface like a properly glazed ceramic plate instead? If multiple people are sharing a “butter board,” try to spoon with them too, giving them clean spoons to use. And if your board does have some particularly unhealthy items such as butter, make sure that you consume such things in moderation. After all, you know the saying: butter safe than sorry.