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The California avocado recall is a reminder to wash your dang avocados

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
Yes, you are supposed to wash these before you cut into them.
  • Zoë Schlanger
By Zoë Schlanger

Environment reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Avocados grown in California and distributed to six US states have been recalled because of Listeria concerns, the US Food and Drug Administration reported on Saturday (March 23).

The recalled avocados were California-grown, and packed in the state, in a facility owned by Henry Avocado. Both organic and non-organic avocados were part of the recall. They were shipped to stores in Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

The non-organic ones sport a “Bravocado” sticker, and the organic ones are labeled “organic” and “California” on the sticker. So far, no one has reported an illness from eating them, and the recall is precautionary. (Henry Avocado also imports avocados from Mexico to sell in the US, but those are not part of the recall.)

These were the recalled conventionally-grown avocados.
These are the organic avocados that were recalled.

The moral of this story: Wash your dang avocados.

Maybe you thought you did not need to do that, because you do not munch on avocado skins. But we’ve been over this before: A knife that cuts through the skin and into the meat could drag the Listeria along with it, and into your guacamole or avocado toast.

Listeria shows up on avocados with some regularity: The US Food and Drug Administration released a report  in December 2018 that found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria on more than 17% of the avocados skins it sampled between 2014 and 2016. Roughly 0.2% of the avocados had Listeria living within the meat of the fruit itself.

This advice goes for all fruits and vegetables encased in skins—mangos, citrus, and melons among them—which can be contaminated when washed with Listeria-contaminated water. It also applies to root crops such as carrots and beets, especially when eaten raw. The best way to avoid infection from fresh fruit and vegetables, according to the FDA, is to “scrub firm produce (which includes avocados) with a clean produce brush, and then dry it with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.” You should wash your hands after handling avocados, too.

It’s worth saying again: It’s wise to wash literally every piece of produce you intend to eat, rind or not.

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