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Dutch doctors warn of rise in avocado-related injuries

Credit: pixino

Dutch Plastic surgeons have warned of a rise in the prevalence of avocado related injuries, so much so that they’ve coined a term for it – ‘avocado hand’.

The increasingly commonplace injury – which occurs as a result of the incorrect stoning of avocados – is now in fact big enough to merit a warning on the Dutch Society for Plastic Surgery (NVPC) website.

‘The popularity of the fruit is leading to a growing number of patients with so-called “avocado lesions’, a cut at the base of a finger with nerve damage. The NVPC calls on Dutch supermarkets and manufacturers to adjust the ‘stoning instruction’ on avocados,” the listing reads.

Currently, instructions often include the option to remove the stone with a knife, which poses considerable risk of injury if the knife slips, with such injuries are seen on a weekly basis, according to reports. “Pitting with a knife often goes wrong, usually resulting in nerve damage,” says plastic surgeon Dr. Annekatrien van de Kar of the OLVG in Amsterdam.

Research from the United States in 2019 showed that 8,000 Americans suffer an avocado-related injury every year, with the paper calling for “education on safe avocado preparation techniques and public safety initiatives, such as warning labels, could help prevent serious injuries in the future.”

A 2018 article by the Chicago Tribune went so far as to question if avocado injuries were reaching epidemic proportions.

In Flanders things have not yet reached that stage yet, one expert suggests.

Potential For Nerve Damage

Speaking to Radio 1, Jan Vranckx of the UZ Leuven explained the while increasingly prevalent, the rise avocado hand in Belgium had not yet reached the level of the Netherlands. He urged quick action in the event of an injury to ensure no lasting damage to the nerve.

“There’s a blood vessel and a nerve in those places. That blood vessel is part of a network, so it can’t do much harm,” he explained.

“If the nerve is in the middle, it causes a loss of sensation in the tip of the index finger and the thumb. If you want to tighten a screw or grab something fine, that is exactly where you feel it. If the feeling is gone there, then you are still hindered in performing fine actions”.

“Cutting any food in your hand is never a good idea. It only takes one slip of the knife or an avocado to cause serious injury,” a piece on the California Avocado Commission explains. “As the popularity of avocados continues to grow, so have the reports of these injuries – now widely known as avocado hand.”

According to the Commission, the best practice is as follows:

  1. Select your ripe avocado and wash.
  2. Wash the avocado thoroughly, dry and then place on the cutting board.
  3. Carefully cut the avocado in half length-wise around the seed, with the fruit flat on the cutting board.
  4. Rotate the avocado ¼ turn and cut length-wise around the seed, creating ¼ avocado segments. Put down your knife.
  5. By separating the quarters, you can remove the seed seamlessly with your fingertips!

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times