Avoca-Don’ts (and Do’s)
See why LVHN ER teams want you to handle that avocado with care.
BY JENN FISHER
Avocados are the darlings of home and restaurant chefs. You can find them shingled across toast, tossed into fresh salads and, most deliciously, starring in everyone’s favorite dip for tortilla chips (hello Cinco de Mayo). But removing the gloriously green fruit from its peel and pit has its own pitfalls, leading to another phenomenon that is not so darling – avocado-related injuries to the hand.
To remove the avocado from its protective covering – and even more stubborn pit – it’s tempting to hold the fruit in your hand. But that’s a dangerous scenario. Holding an avocado in order to slice it into halves, or attempting to smack the knife against the pit to remove it, puts one of your hands in direct peril from a sharp knife. Injuries can range from superficial gashes to those that cause nerve or tendon damage.
Avocado-related injuries are an increasing cause of emergency room visits across the country, including at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) ERs. A study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine in July 2019, reported on the dramatic increase in avocado-related knife injuries in the U.S. by comparing two time periods: 1998-2002 and 2013-2017. From 1998-2002, there were just over 3,100 reported injuries related to avocado preparation using a knife. Then from 2013-2017, that number exceeded 27,000 nationwide.
According to the study:
Most injuries happened to the non-dominant hand
Most injuries occurred to women
Most injuries happened on a weekend
Since avocados are a healthy source of monounsaturated fat and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, K and E), you can and should enjoy them as part of a healthy diet. Just follow safe cutting practices – avoca-do’s – to keep your hands safe.
Wash and dry the avocado before cutting.
Only cut the avocado on a cutting board.
To remove the pit, try using a spoon to scoop it out instead of a knife.
Alternatively, cut the avocado halves into quarters and remove the pit with your fingers. (That tip from the California Avocado Commission.)
If you do happen to suffer a hand injury in your kitchen, it’s important to get it checked. Your care team at an LVHN ER or LVHN ExpressCARE can provide an assessment, confirm that your tetanus shot is up to date and, if needed, stitch your injured hand. Should you need a referral to a hand specialist, your ER provider will connect you with one of our specialists at LVPG Orthopedics or Coordinated Health.
Learn more about emergency care at LVHN.org/emergency.