Dutch plastic surgeons are appealing to the public in a warning against a rise in serious avocado-related hand lesions. “We often see that sensory nerves in the fingers are damaged or cut,” says plastic surgeon Annekatrien van de Kar. “Sometimes people even hit a tendon.”
The Dutch Association for Plastic Surgery (NVPC) says that more and more, they’re treating patients with what they call an “avocado injury,” a cut at the base of the finger with nerve damage.
The professional association can’t confirm exactly how many serious avocado injuries have taken place in the Netherlands, although, many surgeons report treating patients with avocado injuries a few times a week.
Avocado consumption on the rise
The Netherlands is the second highest importer of avocados in the world, after the US. So it’s no surprise that the US also has experience with this hazardous phenomenon — in 2019 alone, 8,900 Americans rushed to ERs for avocado-related injuries.
In Europe, the uptick in injuries could be related to the avocado’s recent labelling as a “pandemic-resistant superfood.” It’s estimated that Europeans are eating 15% more avocados in 2020 than they were in 2019.
Not long ago, Amsterdam even opened a restaurant solely-dedicated to the savoury fruit, The Avocado Show, with several popular locations. The NVPC says they can mark a steady increase in injuries along with this rise in consumption.
Scoop, don’t stab
The professional association advises people to pit their avocados with a spoon to prevent injuries. “When stoning, consumers often hold an avocado half in the palm of their hand,” says Van de Kar. “If the knife slips, they cut their hand.”
The plastic surgeon explains that avocado injuries are a growing concern in the medical world but the everyday consumer isn’t usually aware of the dangers. “The consequences can be annoying and permanent. Unfortunately, the risks are unknown or underestimated by the consumer.”
The NVPC recommends that supermarkets and growers offer safety instructions for opening an avocado. Their video explains how:
You may notice in the video that the host is using a special tool to remove the avocado pit. Many people won’t have such a device in their kitchen, and that’s ok, a spoon works fine.
Another thing that stands out is how the expert shows how some people are trying to stab or flick out the pit with a knife — clearly an amateur move. If you ARE going to use a knife, there are much safer ways. Like this, for example:
The surgeons might not appreciate our recommending this technique though, so to be extra safe if you don’t have the knife skills maybe avoid cutting anything into your hand. Just as a general rule.
The professional association even takes it a step further to suggest including a warning sticker to make consumers aware of the risks.
“Doctors in England already advocated in 2004 for warning stickers on avocados because of the risk of hand injury during stoning,” says Van den Kar. “Hopefully, we can set a good example in the Netherlands.”
Have you or someone you know ever suffered from an avocado injury? Tell us in the comments below.
Feature Image: Marcus Aurelius/Pexels