'Avocado hand': The serious injury caused by brunch fruit's popularity

The ones you love hurt you the most

Rachel Hosie
Wednesday 10 May 2017 11:06 BST
The advice has caused a social media backlash, with many commentators angered by the remarks amid a housing crisis affecting countries around the world
The advice has caused a social media backlash, with many commentators angered by the remarks amid a housing crisis affecting countries around the world

If your brunch didn’t include avocado in some guise, did you even really brunch?

Smashed on sourdough, sliced between halloumi and poached eggs or even turned into a rose, avocado is one of the most popular brunch foods of the moment.

Our love for the fruit shows no sign of abating, but it turns out it’s causing a new casualty: “avocado hand”.

Due to the soaring popularity of avo, more and more people are accidentally cutting their hands when slicing open the fruit and endeavouring to remove the stone.

According to surgeons, A&E departments have seen increasing numbers of people with the injury.

“Recently the health benefits of avocado have been advocated, with an increase in their popularity – and a consequent increase in related injuries,” David Shewring, vice-president of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, told The Times.

And the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons is now calling for safety labels on the fruit, advising people on how to cut them safely.

“Avocado hand” injuries are much worse than just small cuts though, many people have caused themselves serious nerve and tendon injuries which require surgery and can leave you without full use of your hand.

It’s a heavy price to pay for an Instagrammable brunch.

“People do not anticipate that the avocados they buy can be very ripe and there is minimal understanding of how to handle them,” said Simon Eccles, secretary of the association and former president of the plastic surgery section of the Royal Society of Medicine.

“We don’t want to put people off the fruit but I think warning labels are an effective way of dealing with this. It needs to be recognisable. Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?”

There are no figures for how widespread a problem avocado hand is, but given the fruit’s global appeal, it’s thought that the injury has affected people around the world.

Back in 2012, Meryl Streep was pictured with a bandaged hand after losing a fight with an avocado, and figures suggest that over 100 people a year give themselves avocado hand in New Zealand.

The problem may not be at endemic levels, but at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, Mr Eccles says he treats about four patients a week with avocado hand.

And at St Thomas’s hospital in London, staff have actually become accustomed to the “post-brunch surge” on Saturdays, the Times reports.

Often the injury occurs when the stone inside the avocado is softer than people expect, so they slice right through to their hand holding the fruit.

So how should you cut and de-stone an avocado safely?

Place the fruit flat on a surface, and with one hand on top, gently make incisions around the stone, Jeff Bland, executive chef at the Michelin-starred Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, advises.

To remove the stone, Shewring uses the following method: “Wrap the avocado in a towel leaving the pip exposed. Carefully use the edge of a heavy sharp knife to chop into the summit of the soft pip, so that it is slightly buried. Holding the knife, so that the pip is stabilised, use a towel to twist the pip out.”

It may be a middle class problem, but avocado hand is not something to be laughed at. Be safe next time you brunch at home.

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