Cooking Basics

Avocado slicing injuries are sending home cooks to the hospital, doctors say

Avocados are widely praised for their taste, versatility and health benefits, so of course it was only a matter of time before the medical world found a reason to scare consumers away.

That reason is “avocado hand.”

According to The Times of London, doctors and surgeons in the U.K. are becoming alarmed at the increasing rate of patients who accidentally lacerate their own hands while attempting to slice through avocados.

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In fact, “avocado hand” has become so common that doctors at the St. Thomas hospital in London reportedly ready themselves for a “post-brunch surge” of avocado-related injuries on Saturday afternoons. One particular surgeon at the city’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital says he stitches up an average of four “avocado hands” per week.

“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, a plastic surgeon and the former president of plastic surgery with the Royal Society of Medicine, to the Times.

Eccles isn’t just dealing with minor cuts and scratches, either. The Independent reports that amateur cooks have sliced their hands badly enough to require surgery. And other times, “avocado hand” has led to serious nerve damage.

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That’s not to say doctors are advising foodies to go without their precious, precious green fruit. They simply want the public to learn better avocado-handling skills.

The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, for example, has called for warning labels to be affixed directly to the skin of the fruit — kind of like a PLU sticker — along with instructions for slicing them up.

The safest way to do this, the site notes, is to lay the avocado horizontally on a flat surface, place a hand on top of it, and slice into the fruit horizontally, twisting the avocado around until its separated into halves. Then, to remove the pit, wrap the fruit in a heavy towel, place it on a sturdy countertop, chop down into the pit so it’s stuck in the blade, and twist to remove.

Of course, it's anyone's guess as to how a single sticker plans to explain that. 

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