What Is Avocado Hand?

May 12, 2017

At the beginning of this month, The New York Times ran an 11-paragraph article on how to cut an avocado without cutting yourself. It detailed the increasing number of injuries sparked by the menial, seemingly innocuous task of splicing open an avocado, that lush, verdant fruit with a seed the size of a goiter.

The mere existence of that article in a respected American publication can, at first blush, seem like a totally pointless waste of digital real estate. Guess again.

“Avocado hand” has recently become a medical term over in the United Kingdom, where, as the London Times reports, there’s been a recent spate of amateur cooks sent to the ER after some slippage led to ungainly hand lacerations, wherein they've damaged crucial nerves and tendons, some of their scars permanent.

It’s careened into an issue so widespread that the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgeons is lobbying for safety labels to be on avocados to prevent the gross slip-n-stab that can so easily happen when you cut. Simon Eccles, the association’s secretary, sees at least four patients a week who roll through his offices at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London with bloody, maimed hands.

Laugh all you’d like at the woes of this constituency of avocado toast consumers, but that Times diagnosis brings forth a pretty cogent point: In spite of this fruit’s increasing ubiquity atop toasts and in guacamole, there still isn’t much information on how to cut an avocado without mauling yourself. The most tried-and-true method seems to be cutting lengthwise around the pit, on a flat surface. Smooth and steady. Take it from Jamie Oliver.

Or perhaps you can take a cue from my colleague Sarah Jampel, who recommends slicing open an avocado crosswise to achieve perfect petals of green. Next time you buy an avocado, take some time to learn what method works best for you, and don't rush through it; I wouldn't want you (or a loved one) to fall victim to the avocado hand.

Have a preferred method of slicing an avocado? Have an avocado-slicing injury anecdote of your own you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments.


Kathy R. May 15, 2017
Safety labels on avocados? Who are you going to sue? God?
Betsey May 16, 2017
Feel better?
Mary B. May 15, 2017
While removing the seed from an avocado 2 years ago, my paring knife slipped off the seed and went completely through my left hand. The injury sliced a nerve and nicked a tendon, requiring hand surgery. Plus, my kitchen looked like a crime scene from NCIS. I now use a spoon to remove the seed.
Betsey May 15, 2017
My coworker had this same injury last year.
Anne May 15, 2017
Why does anybody cut an avocado in their hand??? This is so unsafe. You don't need to bury your knife into the pit either. Maybe some people need to work on their knife skills and take a safety class<br />
Betsey May 15, 2017
A co-worker of mine nearly cut her thumb off doing this and had to have a gruesome and complicated surgery with lots of recovery time. It's easy to get complacent. Please be careful.
mrslarkin May 15, 2017
I'm a giant-plastic-Costco-honey-bottle-sliced-open-with-a-serrated-knife victim. Avocados are easy.
susan G. May 17, 2017
Serrated knives are unforegiving...