A Public Awareness Lesson From Avocados

A surgical association’s comments on the dangers of cutting avocados may have led to the sale of seedless avocados in the British market. Really. Here’s what happened.

Sometimes, drawing attention to a problem can have a surprising side effect.

Earlier this year, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgeons highlighted a surprisingly common problem that its industry has faced: Simply put, the surgeons called for safety labels on avocados, citing damage caused to people who unwittingly injured a sensitive part of their hand in the midst of trying to remove the sizable seed from the middle of the fruit.

The damage, said the association, often led to intensive surgeries that threatened the full use of a person’s hand.

“People do not anticipate that the avocados they buy can be very ripe and there is minimal understanding of how to handle them,” Simon Eccles, an honorary secretary for the group, told The Times [registration]. “We don’t want to put people off the fruit, but I think warning labels are an effective way of dealing with this. It needs to be recognizable. Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?”

The association’s call became a bit of a media sensation at the time—perhaps helped by the fact that, days later, an Australian entrepreneur’s comments on millennials eating avocado toast garnered even more buzz.

But the association’s comments may have had an impact in a symbiotic way. How so? Well, recently, the British luxury grocer Marks & Spencer started selling an avocado variant that doesn’t have a stone inside. The avocados, about the size of a pickle, can be eaten whole, shell and all—though the shell can, of course, be removed.

(In case you’re wondering, they’re not genetically modified; rather, the avocado blossom has been left unpollinated.)

This Spanish variant, produced in December, is somewhat rare, usually given to chefs rather than placed in grocery stores, but the chain got its hands on some—creating a media sensation all over again.

“This amazing fruit has been on our radar for a couple of years, and we’re very excited to have finally been able to get hold of some for our customers to try,” explained Charlotte Curtis, the chain’s agronomist, in comments to The Independent. “We know they will be in demand and we’ve only been able to get our hands on a limited amount, so make sure you get them while you can!”

Perhaps with their success, food scientists might be inspired by this incident—and find a year-round solution to the problem. See, it helps to speak up sometimes!

Yes, these are avocados. No, they don't have seeds. (Marks & Spencer)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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