Avocados are the rich and silky queen of the whole-foods world. They’re delicious in salads, delightful on toast, divine in smoothies, and don’t even get me started on guacamole. They’re the food blogger’s idol, the chef’s dream, and the diner’s darling. And to top it all off, they tested positive for listeria and salmonella.
Yes, you read that right, and no, that’s not exactly a good thing for our ripe, green friend. Or for us consumers either.
The Green Scandal
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently made a shocking discovery about everyone’s favorite fruit. With over 1,500 samples from both imported and domestic avocados, it was discovered that the outer skin of this popular fruit holds trace amounts of listeria and salmonella. (1)
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Well, who in their right mind is chowing down on the leathery skin anyway? Hopefully no one. But even if you plan on throwing the skin away, cutting into the avocado with your knife can transfer these pathogens from the skin to the fruit. And, as has been discovered with further testing, even the fruit of the avocado tests positive in both listeria and salmonella. (2, 3)
What Are These Pathogens Anyway?
Most people are aware of salmonella, but listeria is a little less familiar. So what are these pathogens really?
- Salmonella is a bacteria that causes food poisoning. The symptoms usually include nausea and vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Most people take 4 to 7 days to recover without medical assistance, but in severe cases, the infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and require additional treatment. (4)
- Listeria is a bacteria that can cause an illness a bit more severe than food poisoning. The most common symptoms are vomiting, weakness, a stiff neck, fever, and confusion. Antibiotics can cure the infection, but even with medication, the illness can last days or even weeks. (5)
The End Of The Avocado As We Know It?
If you’re as discouraged as I was upon hearing this horrible news, you may feel like the only thing that could cheer you up would be some fresh and creamy guacamole. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it!
Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the avocado as we know it. Although the tests for salmonella were positive, the number of bacteria found in the avocado was, on average, small enough that most people wouldn’t experience severe illness after consumption. That said, those with weakened immune systems such as older adults, pregnant women, and diabetics, are more susceptible and could still end up falling ill. (1)
So if you really can’t live without this little green fruit, not to worry. You don’t have to! As long as your immune system is in good shape, just make sure to wash your avocado thoroughly before slicing into it, and resist the urge to chew on or lick the peel.
The Avocado Reign Continues
So it looks like our green queen still rules the whole-foods kingdom. As long as you give it a nice scrubbing beforehand, you can have her avocado highness for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even your midnight snack.