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Wash avocados to avoid food poisoning: FDA

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

-  /  Tue, January 1, 2019  /  05:03 am
Wash avocados to avoid food poisoning: FDA

While most of us may not be used to washing an avocado before cutting it open, recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) findings could be a reason to change that habit. (Shutterstock/Nataliya Arzamasova)

While most of us may not be used to washing an avocado before cutting it open, recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) findings may provide reason to change that habit.

Newsweek recently reported that the FDA had collected more than a 1,000 avocado samples between 2014 and 2016 to be tested, as a way to prevent consumers from eating contaminated food.

The FDA conducted the test to find out the pervasiveness of potentially infectious bacteria, namely salmonella and listeria monocytogenes. The two types of bacteria are said to likely transfer from the peel to the flesh when the fruit is cut open.

A test result showed that around 12 of 1,615 sampled avocados contained salmonella on the skin. The fruits are of Hass variety and domestically grown in the US.

Another 361 avocados were tested, and 64 of them are found to contain listeria on the skin. Thirty-three of them were domestic fruits and the rest were imported. Listeria was also found on the flesh of three fruits out of another 1,254 imported avocados tested.

The reports, however, did not detail the concentration of the bacteria in the samples. Although low listeria exposure does not tend to cause serious illness for most healthy adults, it could harm pregnant women, newborns, adults aged 65 and older, and those with weakened immune systems, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC also informed that listeriosis, an infection caused by listeria, affects around 1,600 people every year in the US. The infection, marked by various symptoms including headache, confusion, stiff neck, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches can also cause death (around 260 out of 1,600 cases).

Regardless of no listeria outbreaks associated to avocados reported in the US, FDA’s research indicates that the strains are “highly related” to those found in contaminated people.

Read also: Trendy avocados removed from UK menus amid environmental concerns

Salmonella, the other bacteria found on avocados, is the culprit behind 1.2 million illnesses that lead to about 450 deaths every year in the US, according to CDC data. The infection symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, but most people can recover without having to receive medical treatment.

It is safest, however, to wash avocado skin thoroughly with water before consumption. Better yet, use a clean produce brush to scrub avocado skin, to prevent any dirt and bacteria from transferring from the knife to the flesh of the fruit. (mut)