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"Avocado hand" is becoming a worldwide problem

Utrecht, Netherlands - Surgeons in the Netherlands say they are treating more and more patients with so-called "avocado hand" injures, despite widespread warnings from doctors and researchers in many countries.

Avocado related injuries are on the rise.
Avocado related injuries are on the rise.  © 123RF/subbotina

The Association of Plastic Surgeons in Utrecht says a growing number of avocado toast and guacamole fans are turning up at emergency rooms after cutting open their fingers or hands while trying to remove the pit.

"We often see nerves of the fingers being damaged or even cut," Amsterdam surgeon Annekatrien van de Kar said on Tuesday, noting that some cases have left people with permanent damage to their hands.

While surgeons in the Netherlands say they are now treating a few "avocado hand" patients every week, in the US there are several thousand such cases every year.

According to a 2020 study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, between 2013 and 2017, 27,059 people in the US needed medical help after cutting open an avocado, the vast majority (80.1%) of them women - almost a ten-fold increase since 2002.

A British association of plastic surgeons has even called for the fruit to be sold with warning labels.

How to cut an avacod without slicing open your hand

Avocado makes a great spread, just make sure your careful when you cut your avacado.
Avocado makes a great spread, just make sure your careful when you cut your avacado.  © 123rf/ kostrez

If you're a serious avocado fan, then there's no way around buying yourself a dedicated avocado slicer, a tool designed to help you cut up the avocado and pull out the pit. But you can just as easily use a knife if you know the right technique.

Chef Oliver Roeder, a member of the Jeunes Restaurateurs association for young cooks, says there's a simple enough way to prepare an avocado without inflicting any injuries.

1. Take the avocado in one hand and a knife in the other. Use the edge of the blade to cut into the avocado length-wise until the knife touches the pit. Run the blade completely around the avocado.

2. Set aside the knife. With both hands, twist the avocado halves in opposite directions so that they detach from each other.

3. Take the half with the pit in one hand, and the knife in the other. Hit the pit with the knife's edge just hard enough to embed the blade. Loosen the pit by twisting the knife slightly before pulling it out, leaving the flesh intact.

The easiest way to work with avocado flesh is to scoop it out with a spoon. However, that works only with avocados that are totally ripe.

Here's another method in case the scoop technique isn't working:

4. Halve the pitted avocado pieces again, creating four quarters. Take each quarter by an edge and pull the skin away from the flesh, similar to peeling a banana.

5. Cut the flesh into strips or cubes. In either case, be sure to drizzle the avocado pieces with lemon juice as quickly as possible. "Otherwise it will oxidize and turn an ugly brown," warned Roeder.

Speaking of overripe avocados, have you ever wanted to pick out the perfect fruit from the produce section without having to cut it open? The TAG24 guide for the avocado afficionado has the perfect tips and tricks.

Cover photo: 123RF/subbotina

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