Is TikTok's Viral Butter Board Trend Healthy?

Butter boards are the newest TikTok food trend to go viral. The concept is simple: smear a cutting board with butter and sprinkle it with an artistic assortment of herbs, fruit, nuts, and vegetables. But while these picturesque platters might look delicious, they aren't without their risks.

The trend initially took off on September 16, when American recipe developer Justine Doiron posted a video of what she hoped would be the "next charcuterie board" on TikTok. The clip has since had 8.5 million views and over a million likes.

@justine_snacks

I like this one idk I’m in a silly goofy butter mood

♬ original sound - speed songs

The response was mixed, with many users expressing concerns about hygiene. "No [thank you] I don't trust double dippers," said one user.

"Sharing [communal food] with others has certain obvious risks," Dr. Karan Rajan, a surgeon who enjoys a large social media following, told Newsweek. "If someone doesn't wash their hands after going to the bathroom it's an easy way for gastroenteritis to spread."

While this is a risk with any communal food, Rajan said the nature of butter boards makes this kind of germ exchange particularly likely. "There's more prolonged contact time and more saliva transfer," Rajan said.

sharing food hummus
Stock image of people sharing food. The new viral butter board trend has some questioning the hygiene of dipping bread onto a board covered in butter and toppings. nito100/Getty

"I think sharing within a family is probably fair game. You're already sharing the same spaces and are likely exposed to the same microbes," he said.

While these concerns can largely be negated by using a bread knife, the board itself may be a problem too. Household chopping boards have been shown to harbor all sorts of harmful bacteria, including E. coli, listeria and salmonella. These microbes live in the deep knife grooves that scar the board's surface waiting to hitchhike on a layer of warm, melting butter. Anyone planning to try out this trend should therefore consider using a different board than the one they prepare food on.

chopping board with bread
Stock image of a wooden chopping board. Anyone looking to make a butter board, it is worth considering using a different board than one you prepare food on. Angelika Heine/Getty

Germs are of course not the only health headache of eating off a butter board. "Butter is a concentrated source of saturated fat (which...is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk)," Lilian Cheung, director of health promotion and communication for the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Newsweek. "When compared to sources of unsaturated fat, such as olive oil, butter is going to be the less optimal choice for our health."

While this might not come as a surprise, when it comes to saturated fat, a board full of butter is considerably worse for your health than similar savory snacks. "There is more than double the amount of saturated fat in one ounce of butter (14 grams) compared to one ounce of cheese (6 grams)," Cheung said. "However, the amount of sodium in cheeses is higher than butter."

cheese selection
Stock image of a cheese selection. Butter contains twice as much saturated fat as cheese per ounce. mescioglu/Getty

"Although some of these butter or cheese boards may incorporate nutritious toppings such as nuts, herbs, sliced vegetables, or fruit, from a health perspective it's still a better bet to savor these boards with others as an occasional celebration food–not something to consume on a daily basis," she said. "Tasty and nutritious alternatives to butter boards would be hummus boards and nut butter boards."

"It's important to consider frequency and alternatives when assessing an individual food," she said. "If butter is a "sometimes food" that is eaten infrequently...it would be fine if the individual does not have any health risk related to saturated fat."