The FDA would like to remind you to please wash your avocados before cutting them. Well actually, the FDA wants you to wash all fruit—but a two-year sampling surveillance program may have found that the green goodness of avocados might come with something that you definitely don’t want in your kitchen: food-borne illnesses.

Between 2014 and 2016, the FDA collected and tested whole fresh avocados, testing the skins and flesh for Salmonella and Listeria. Of the 1,615 samples, only 0.74 percent tested positive for Salmonella on the skin. While that’s not a crazy-high number, any presence of a bacteria on the skin means that cutting into the fruit can spread the microorganisms into the flesh—and ultimately, into your system.

Photo: Matthew Henry via Burst

When it comes to Listeria and avocados, the FDA testing found that more than 17 percent of the fruit tested did have Listeria on the skin—but only 0.24 percent had the pathogen inside. While Listeria doesn’t typically cause illness in healthy adults, it can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system.

So what does this mean for all of you avocado enthusiasts out there? Quite simply: wash your fruit! The easiest way to avoid contaminating the inside of your avocado with anything that’s on the outside of the peel is to clean and thoroughly dry it before cutting.

—Erica Loop

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