/ Food & Drink

Update: avocado hand – should the fruit come with a warning sticker?


You’d have thought we’d know how to cut an avocado by now, but for some, getting one of their five-a-day can result in them losing a finger. Surely we don’t need warning stickers on our fruit… Or do we?

It’s Sunday, 11am, and I’m sat in one of my favourite south London eateries with my girlfriend. As we excitedly scan the brunch menu (yes, I’m one of those – don’t worry, it gets worse), me sipping my almond flat white (told you), my other half places her order. ‘I’ll have the smashed avocado on rye bread.’ (she’s just as bad).

Yum! I had the shakshuka, in case you were wondering.

Far from simply treating my partner to a fancy mid-morning meal, by leaving the house and having a professional prepare us some food, it actually turns out I’m protecting us both from inflicting a horrendous injury on ourselves.

Gone are the days when brunch was seen as a delicacy reserved for the metropolitan elite. Today, it’s a case of self-preservation.

It’s been a week and a half since a number of A&E departments reported a trend in brunch-related injuries; specifically in the preparation of avocado – the breakfast fruit favourite of city folk. Unfortunately, it seems they aren’t capable of safely cutting and destoning it themselves.

Avocado hand

The epidemic, being labelled ‘avocado hand’, has prompted health professionals having to treat the walking wounded – and hungry – to suggest the issuing of safety warnings.

Simon Eccles, honorary secretary of British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Bapras) said: ‘There is minimal understanding of how to handle them. Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?’

Is this the world gone mad? Perhaps it’s something those brave enough to make avocado and poached eggs should seriously consider before picking up a knife.

Would you pay any attention to a warning sticker on an avocado? Do you have any battle scars where you’ve managed to accidentally impale yourself on a kitchen utensil?

Before signing off, and in an attempt to keep our community safe from the mouthwatering menace that is avocado, we wanted to share our tips for destoning and enjoying avocados safely.

Tip 1 Scoop out the stone with a spoon.

Tip 2 Hack down onto the stone with a knife so the middle of the blade (not the tip) just penetrates the surface, then twist to remove.

Tip 3 Invest in an avocado tool (yes, there really are such things – Google it!).

Update: 8 December 2017

Marks & Spencer may just have solved the problem of ‘avocado hand’, if only for Christmas, by launching stoneless avocados.

The supermarket’s new ‘cocktail avocados’, which will only be on sale in December, come without the perilous stone and can be eaten skin and all, so you don’t even have to peel them. If that doesn’t appeal, you can simply cut off one end and squeeze out the flesh.

Grown in Spain and measuring just 5-8cm in length, the groundbreaking fruit is the result of an unpollinated avocado blossom, which develops without the seed.

Patrick Taylor says:
21 May 2017

” The problem may not be at endemic levels, but at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, Mr Eccles says he treats about four patients a week with avocado hand. And at St Thomas’s hospital in London, staff have actually become accustomed to the “post-brunch surge” on Saturdays, the Times reports.”

I look forward to the warning on fat splatter at nudist camps around the UK : )

Is Which? proposing a section on dealing with vegetables and fruit safely? It might be an added reason to be a subscriber if you can confidently use Which? for advice on many matters. And it could be linked to the report on best splatter guard, and avocado tool.


I think you’ve found the target market for the novelty aprons emblazoned with nudey torsos Patrick.

We’re not necessarily suggesting a whole new category of product testing. But, you’ve got to admit, it could potentially be something we may have to look at more seriously. especially if our NHS is having to deal with injuries sustained through the preparation of a certain fruit and vegetables.

I would definitely read Which? reviews of so-called ‘life hack’ type kitchen tools though.


To remove an avocado stone from a half avocado, hold the avocado with one hand and twist a corkscrew into the stone for a few turns with the other, then pull firmly.


I fear holding the fruit in one hand and any type of sharp utensil in the other to prepare a meal could end in with blood being drawn.


The consequences of taking learning to cook and food management off the curriculum come back to cut us on the hand…

We just need a few headlines, you tube videos and good cookery programmes to put us back on track and avoiding the worst of the gory damage but it will take us much longer to teach people how to feed themselves and their families easy and nutritional food as more than one generation have lost the skills. School is not the only place of learning. Here is where Granny and Grandad could be very useful teachers.

I took the end off a finger with a mandolin because I wasn’t careful enough. Several years later I braved the machine again and I’m really not sure it is worth the bother. It would have been better to have learnt really good knife skills instead.


Eeesh! Yes, mandolins can be dearth traps for the ends of our fingers. I have enough trouble with graters. Not sure I’m brave enough to go straight to the potato guillotine.

Totally agree with your second point. A number of my friends, who are no longer in their twenties, still seem to struggle in the kitchen and specifically the creation of healthy, nutritious meals. As a veggie I have to try a little harder to ensure I’m getting everything my body needs so I find it hard to believe some people my age survive on a diet of beige: http://12roundsboxing.co.uk/are-you-surviving-on-the-diet-of-beige/


I had not appreciated the danger of mandolins, only that there is too much violins on TV.


Almost anything that is tricky or risky has a plethora of instructions and tips on-line nowadays, including the notoriously fiendish avocado preparation experience. What none of them say is whether, with sharp knife in hand, one should address the avocado lengthwise or crosswise. Perhaps it makes no difference but I think twisting the fruit to expose the stone would be easier across the width than along the length . . . just a poser to prolong this intensely fascinating discussion. They probably look better served as two matching halves than as a top and a bottom. Avocado aficionados would probably benefit from investing in a chain-mail glove of the sort worn by butchers; this would take a lot of the pressure off A&E and help the country get back on its feet.

What else is there to do on a Sunday morning in London than admit to balsamic vinegar anxiety, or try to resolve the quinoa pronunciation conundrum? At last, the ever-resourceful avocado has provided a new topic of metropolitan discourse. Stone me! Whatever next!?

Personally I can’t stand the taste of avocado, smashed or otherwise, and don’t even think of putting guacamole on the table.


That’s what my utensil drawer is missing! A chain mail glove! Would love to see my friends’ faces when I pull that out.

‘Stone me!’ Very clever @johnward. Your wordplay is a ‘cut’ above.