According to a new report from the United States Food and Drug Administration, you should definitely wash an avocado before you eat it. Of course, you don’t eat the rind of an avocado but the report details that the skin of this fruit might contain trace amounts of the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.
Earlier this month, the FDA released a report that describes the result of a 2014-2016 study which tested more than 1,000 domestic and imported avocado skins for presence of the bacteria. The search concluded that Listeria monocytogenes were, in fact, present on the skin of at least 17 percent of the avocados they tested. They also said that trace amounts of salmonella were only discovered on the skins of less than one percent of the avocados tested.
In the report, the FDA state: “The findings of this assignment affirm that Salmonella may be present on avocados and that Listeria monocytogenes may be present on or in the fruit.”
Analyzing the results of the study, then, the federal agency is now urging consumers to thoroughly wash the outside of any avocado before peeling or cutting into it. Basically, if there is a contaminant present on the skin of the avocado, the motion of the knife cutting through it could transfer the bacteria from the skin to the edible part on the inside. To be more specific, the FDA recommends scrubbing the skin of every avocado you eat with a “produce brush” and then drying it with a paper towel or with a clean cloth.
You can find a produce brush in the kitchen section of most popular department stores. Some grocery stores may also have them.
The FDA goes on to encourage that you should perform the same type of cleaning on other forms of produce. Particularly, the agency advises this procedure with other fruits that have rinds you don’t eat, like oranges and melons.
Exposure to Listeria monocytogenes generally produces mild illness, especially at low levels. Pregnant woman, older adults, and those adults who may have a weakened immune system, however, could be vulnerable to more severe illness, even with little exposure to the pathogen.