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Avocados in the news [infographic] – “Avocado hand”

19 July, 2017

Avocados have earned lots of publicity recently: avocado hand, stolen avocados and laser tagging of avocados were perhaps the ones commented most. In a series of infographics we try to explore in a visual way some of the news.

Avocados in the news #1: “Avocado hand”

On the 10th of May (2017), The Times published an article about “avocado hand”, injuries taking place during avocado cutting/slicing. The article was featuring BAPRAS Honorary Secretary, Simon Eccles, who said he treats on average 4 people a week for avocado hand. He was also suggesting that avocados should carry warning labels.

This was not something that came out of the blue: in fact there have been several other occasions where accidents with avocados have made it in the news (see the timeline on the top of the infographic). Back in 2004, a chef, who cut his finger while trying to cut an avocado, sued a hotel in Scotland for a £25K compensation.

About three years later (21 November 2006), The Guardian featured an article titled “Are avocados a health hazard?” where a surgeon was suggesting that “avocados should come with a health warning”.

In August 2012, Hollywood actress Meryl Streep appeared with a bandaged hand after slicing her hand while cutting an avocado.

And in New Zealand, Kiwi songstress Brooke Fraser had surgery for avocado wounds back in 2015.

Interestingly it’s from New Zealand that we have some statistics about the matter; they show that avocado-related accidents are on the rise: 118 claims in 2014, 137 in 2015 and 162 in 2016 (ACC data).

On average, between 2014-2016, 83% of the claims for avocado hand were made by women (in total: 346 women – 71 men).

In order to avoid avocado hand the main idea is not to hold with/cup in your naked hand an avocado while you have a knife on the other trying to cut it or remove its stone.

Firstly (Step 1) place the avocado flat on a cutting board, put the hand that doesn’t hold the knife on top (in order to stabilise it) and slice it in half. This is a rather dangerous part of the process. The knife can slip on the relatively hard skin of the avocado and end in your hand. So it’s important you don’t hold with/cup in your hand the avocado.

Separate (Step 2) the two halves by rotating them against each other.

The next thing you need to do is to take the half with the stone and remove the stone out of it. This is the step where most accidents happen.

Either the stone is hard (as it should be) but the knife slips on it and ends on the hand that holds it or the stone is too soft, the knife cuts the avocado through and lands on the naked hand.

As in Step 1 the idea is not to hold the avocado with your hand. Instead put it on the cutting surface and hit the stone with the knife, twist it and it will get out.

Avocado hand accidents have as a result nerve and tendon injuries and in some cases the hand never recovers 100% so it pays to be careful.

The Times Holy guacamole, that’s got to hurt!
BBC Chef sues hotel over cut finger
The Guardian Are avocados a health hazard?
Daily News Injured Meryl Streep steps out with bandaged hand at ‘Hope Springs’ premiere
Stuff Avocado injuries keep medical staff busy

Many thanks to ACC/Suzanne Muth for providing us with the ACC (New Zealand) statistics. Frances Pipera assisted in the design process.

If you found this post interesting, why not have a look at other related posts:
Tomatoes in the UK (infographic)
We Are What We Eat: an infographic

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