Just last week federal officials put out a warning for all avocado lovers: you must wash your avocados! ABC News says, according to the government, one in five avocados tests positive for a bacteria that causes listeria infections. Because of this, cutting open an avocado without washing it could put you at risk of bacteria and consequently, food poisoning.
“Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and about 260 die. The infection is most likely to sicken pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC twenty-four seven. Saving Lives, Protecting People
Even though you don’t eat the skin you have to clean it thoroughly before you eat the avocado. This is advice coming from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is the only way to prevent bacteria and dirt from transferring from the peel to the insides. Avocado skins harbor bacteria that can transfer to your knife and into the edible pulp as you’re cutting through the fruit.
The skin is thick enough that you don’t have to worry about any chemicals or bacteria penetrating into the fruit itself on its own. Once you properly clean the avocado skin, the fruit is perfectly safe to be consumed and enjoyed.
Here are the step by step instructions as recommended by the FDA:
- Run cool or lukewarm potable water over the avocado in the sink.
- Use a vegetable brush to clean dirt and other residues off the avocado skins. Do this as you hold the avocado under running water. Scrub the surface gently until there is no longer any dirt or other visible residues on the skin. You can use a toothbrush if you don’t have a vegetable brush but don’t use only your fingers. The skin has grooves that most likely is covered with artificial wax which can trap pathogens. If you try to clean the avocado with only your hands it is impossible to get all the trapped bacteria out. It is unnecessary to use soap, bleach, or specialty fruit washes as these products do not make the process more effective, running water is enough.
- Thoroughly dry off the avocados once you are sure they are clean. It is important you really make sure they are dry because moisture is one of the conditions that bacteria need in order to grow. Now they are ready for use.