Taht, IMHO, is the confusion. The research showed some toxic compound that
eliminates bacteria in maple. If red oak contained a similiar compound it
may be ideal for that application. The open pore thing is another issue to
be considered, of course.
I have tried all kinds of oil on my maple cutting board. It doesn't work
well. Heat the baord in the oven for an hour (gently) and rub it with a good
saturated fat (Crisco shortening) and you won't have to do it again for ten
years, if ever. That also should fill some pores. Oils can go rancid and
become toxic to humans when left out in air and warm.
What others have emphasized. Do not use open-pore woods, such as red
oak, ash, bass or mahogany. They tend to soak liquids. I would add to
not use exotic woods that contain "sand" or minerals that will dull
knives, such as teak. I have had good luck with cherry, maple, walnut
(all of which have nice contrast with one another), and beech. I like
the pattern/color (or lack of) of beech for boards.
You did not ask about finish, but I really like food-grade mineral
oil, which is sold at the pharmacy for "constipation" problems.There
are other finishes, but they tend to be more expensive, and, at least
in my experience, not any better.
Finally, research done by the U of Wisconsin-Madison shows that wood
boards are far superior to composite boards in eliminating bacteria.