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Love of avocados can be deadly unless washed

Americans’ love of avocados has skyrocketed in recent years yet now, the tasty fruit popular in salads, guacamole and spread on breakfast toast with an egg over-easy can be deadly.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises avocado lovers to wash the green fruit before preparing it.  The agency found 17 percent of the avocados it tested had the foodborne Listeria monocytogenes present on the fruit’s skin.

The FDA says Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that if ingested can cause serious health problems for older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports around 260 people die annually from ingesting the listeria bacteria.

Listeria has also been blamed for recent food recalls including ready-to-eat salads that were sold at some grocery stores.

So how do the bacteria go from the skin to the fruit?  It could be on the knife that is used to cut into the skin before cutting the pulp.

The FDA also reported the chances of the pathogen within the edible part of the avocado is extremely small.  Their sample only measured .24 percent.

Foodsafety.gov recommends washing all produce under running water before cutting, cooking and/or consuming it.  This also means you should go ahead and wash the fruit even if you intend to remove the outer layer before preparing it.

The FDA also advises with avocados, melons, and cucumbers to scrub them with a produce brush.  You should then dry the fruit using a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting into it.