FDA Warns Popular Avocado Hack Could Be Breeding Salmonella

Avocado lovers may want to think twice before attempting the latest viral hack involving the fruit as it has the potential to harbor harmful bacteria, warns the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Buying avocados just for them to turn into a mushy brown mess mere days later is a struggle for many consumers, but a new hack circulating on TikTok claims to have solved that issue with the use of just a bottle of water. The hack, described as "magic" by some TikTokers, involves submerging whole avocados in water and storing them in the fridge, keeping the fruit fresh and green for up to a month.

TikTok user @shamamamahealing shared her attempt at the hack to over six million viewers, cutting the avocados after two weeks submerged in a water bottle. The fruit was cut open to reveal a fresh, green shade. Sounds too good to be true? That's because it is, according to the FDA. Despite seeming to work, the practice could harbor and breed harmful bacteria, including salmonella, the department told Newsweek.

Avocados
Stock image of avocados. Getty Images

"The FDA does not recommend this practice," a spokesperson told Newsweek. "The main concern is with the possibility that any residual human pathogens (i.e. Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp, etc.) that may be residing on the avocado surface may potentially multiply during the storage when submerged in water.

"In addition, research performed by FDA scientists has shown that Listeria monocytogenes has the potential to infiltrate and internalize into the pulp of avocados when submerged in refrigerated dump tanks within 15 days during refrigerated storage, In this case, even surface disinfecting the avocado skin prior to slicing would not be able to remove the contamination."

@shamamamahealing

Just some #avocado magic for you! Store in water in the fridge for up to a month! #kitchentips #vegan #vegetarian #howto

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Research by the FDA found the overall prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in avocado skin samples of 1,615 avocados to be 17.73 percent. As explained, placing those in water provides the perfect opportunity for the bacteria to spread and multiply.

At low levels of exposure, Listeria monocytogenes does not cause severe illness for healthy adults but it can affect pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. The bacteria affects the intestinal tract, causing symptoms like diarrhea, fever, chills, and abdominal pain.

The FDA also found Salmonella in 12 avocado skin samples from the domestically grown products, leading to voluntary recalls and facility inspections.

With the TikTok hack comes a double whammy, as further research by the FDA found that submerging avocados in refrigerated water allowed the Listeria monocytogenes to move from the outside of the fruit directly inside, making it all the easier to ingest.

Although refrigerating avocados in water might seem like it would make your life easier, you might want to pause on grabbing water-tight containers.

Last month, batches of the popular Kinder Surprise eggs chocolates were recalled across Europe shortly before Easter after suspected salmonella outbreaks in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. And in January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced that a salmonella outbreak in 25 states that sickened 44 individuals was caused by contact with pet bearded dragons.