Why the FDA is Warning People to Wash Their Avocados

Whether it’s on toast, deep fried, or holding a latte (not going to lie, I had no idea that was a joke at first) avocados are undoubtedly the trendiest food of the last decade. You’d be hard pressed to scroll through any social media feed and not see at least one tantalizing avocado picture. But, despite how in-your-face the trend is, it would be impossible to not see why avocados are all the rage.

Not only is the fruit delicious on its own and in tons of recipes, it’s called a “super food” for a reason. Avocados are packed with essential vitamins and minerals that are great for your eyes, cholesterol, heart, skin, hair, and bones to name a few.

But you could be negating all these fantastic health benefits if you don’t do this one crucial step, one that most people completely forget to do.

That step? Washing your avocado.

Naturally, we don’t eat the outside of avocado, but harmful chemicals and bacteria can get spread inside the fruit if you don’t wash the skin before peeling it. Avocados aren’t just naturally germy, the bacteria comes from multiple people handling the produce before you got your hands on it.

According to the FDA:

[Our] findings affirm that Salmonella may be present on avocados and that Listeria monocytogenes may be present on or in the fruit.

Think about how many places that avocado went before it arrived in your grocery store. Dozens of people most likely touched the outside of the fruit as it went from the farm, to packaging, to the produce aisle, and it may have even been sprayed with pesticides. Not taking the time to wash your avocado could infect your food and increase your vulnerability to illness.

Here’s what the FDA says to do:

Consumers can take steps to reduce possible microbial risks related to avocados. Foodsafety.gov recommends that consumers “wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking.” The site also advises, “Even if you plan to cut the rind or peel off the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit.” Foodsafety.gov also recommends that consumers scrub firm produce (which includes avocados) with a clean produce brush, and then dry it with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.

So, the next time you’re making guacamole for a crowd, make sure to wash your produce before you do anything — that way you can enjoy everyone’s favorite trend without a worry.