As the perfect versatile fruit for transforming toast or eating alone as a snack, it is no wonder avocados are so popular.
However, there is one step you may be skipping when preparing an avocado for your brunch - and it has the potential to make you sick.
While it may seem like the tough exterior skin of an avocado is enough to protect the green fruit inside, it turns out that the skin can actually be host to harmful bacteria such as listeria and salmonella, according to a recent report from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which advises washing your avocados before eating them just like any other fruit.
According to the report, a sampling of 1,615 whole fresh avocado collected, tested and analysed by the FDA beginning in 2014 found salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes bacteria present.
Of the fruits sampled, the FDA found 17 per cent of avocado skins tested positive for listeria, but that the number was much smaller when testing avocado pulps, the part of the fruit that people eat, with just three out of 1,254 samples testing positive.
When testing for salmonella, just under one per cent of avocado skin samples tested positive.
Despite the low number of edible portions of the avocados contaminated, the FDA recommends consumers thoroughly wash the fruit because the risk can occur when cutting into the fruit, at which point the bacteria from the skin can be transferred to the inside of the avocado.
On the FDA’s blog FoodSafety.org, it recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce, and then washing all produce under running water.
For firm produce, such as avocado, the site also suggests scrubbing with a clean produce brush to ensure all bacteria is removed and then “drying with a cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present."
The FDA also encourages discarding the fruit’s peel and eating avocados quickly once they are cut, which can further “limit the amount of the pathogen, if present, that consumers may be exposed to.”
Fortunately, if listeria bacteria is consumed, associated illness is usually treatable at home, according to the NHS - unless you are pregnant or have a weak immune system.
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