Do You Need to Wash Avocados?

It turns out, you do need to wash avocados—unless you want to risk coming into contact with potentially harmful bacteria.

When it comes to washing produce, I always assumed the rules were pretty straightforward. If you don’t eat the peel, don’t wash it. I never bother rinsing my bananas or oranges—so why bother with avocados?

Why should you wash avocados?

In December 2018, the FDA released a four-year report that studied over 1,500 avocados for bacteria. There was good news and bad news: Less than 1 per cent of avocados tested positive for salmonella, but around 18 per cent tested positive for listeria. That means that almost one-fifth of the fruit contain the harmful bacteria on their skin. (To protect yourself from food-borne illness, think twice before ignoring these expiration dates.)

But I don’t eat the skin, you protest! Well, if you’re like me and you’ve been cutting into your avocado without washing it first, your knife could be transferring listeria from the skin to the flesh with a single slice (especially if you use the same knife to scoop).

Is listeria actually dangerous?

It depends. Small amounts of listeria aren’t likely to cause severe illnesses in healthy adults. They’re more harmful to people with weakened immune systems, such as children and pregnant women, who might be at risk for listeriosis. Listeriosis usually reveals itself in symptoms like headaches and a stiff neck, but it’s fairly rare to actually contract. Still, people at-risk should take special care to avoid it.

How do you wash avocados?

To keep myself (and my family) safe, I’ll now be washing all of my avocados before cutting in. First, determine if the avocado is ripe. To clean, all it takes is one simple rinse under the water and a scrub with your hands—or a produce brush, if you have one. Next, pat dry with a cloth before slicing with a clean knife.

Next, find out the surprising health benefits of avocados.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home