Avocado injuries keep medical staff busy
Hollywood actress Meryl Streep has done it and so now has Kiwi songstress Brooke Fraser.
And according to ACC she is just one of the more than 100 Kiwis a year slicing themselves open while attempting to whack an avocado stone with a sharp knife to remove it.
Figures show 303 people had lodged claims for compensation in the past three years for avocado injuries, with $87,527 paid out in that period for cut or stabbed fingers and hands.
The numbers were no surprise to Masterchef's 2011 winner and My Food Bag creator, Nadia Lim, who became New Zealand avocado industry's avocado ambassador in 2012.
"Apparently it is one of the most common kitchen accident admissions to Accident & Emergency.
"If the avocado is very ripe and slippery, the stone will move and twist as soon as the knife touches it, and you can end up slicing through the avocado and into your hand. Or worse yet, if your aim is not spot on, you can end up severing your wrist or fingers. In short, this is not a good idea."
READ MORE: Brooke Fraser cuts through hand
Wellington celebrity chef Martin Bosley knows that well.
He had a gory experience several decades ago when attempting to remove an avocado stone while the fruit was clasped in his hand.
"I came down with a full whack and the knife cut through the stone and avocado like butter, and embedded in the heel of my hand."
He had to yank the knife out and wrapped the heavily bleeding wound with a tea towel before he rushed to Wellington Hospital's emergency department in a cab, where he received several stitches.
"I severed a couple of tendons .... there was blood everywhere. I looked like I'd been in a knife fight. I guess I had."
Since then, Bosley has treated avocados with great care and caution.
"I just do a gentle tap on the stone with a small knife. I'm still paranoid about it."
Auckland regional plastic surgery department head John Kenealy said Middlemore Hospital would treat several patients a week for avocado injuries during summer, the peak of its availability.
Typically, people suffered nerve or tendon damage in their hands, and some were left with permanent disabilities, such as reduced movement of fingers.
Most injuries were caused by people stabbing at the stone or trying to lever it out with a knife point.
"You should never apply a knife to an avocado while it's in your hand ... At the end of the day, there are safe ways to do it."
Lim's recommended method was to cut the fruit in quarters lengthways, instead of in half, which allowed the stone to easily pop out and was simple to peel.
New Zealand Avocado's communications manager, Midge Munro, also suggested kitchen implements specially designed to safely remove avocado stones.
"I personally really like the 3-in-1 avocado scoop manufactured by OXO."
After heavily-pregnant Fraser posted several photos of her injured hand on Facebook on August 30 and September 1, hundreds of horrified fans responded by posting comments of support.
"For everyone who's been asking, I was cutting an avocado a few days ago when the knife slipped and kinda sorta went through my hand. Had successful surgery today to repair the nerve I severed so I will be able to play music again! The surgical team were bosses. To all my friends who texted, sent flowers, prayed - thank you," she wrote on September 1.
Many fans said they had also suffered a similar injury, such as Wellington nurse Yvonne Wickens, who wrote that nurses at Hutt Hospital told her it was very common.
Meryl Streep revealed her injured hand at an event in New York in August 2012, admitting the knife slipped while cutting an avocado.