You’re not supposed to eat it, but you are supposed to clean it. While you may have never heard of anyone washing the skin of their avocado before slicing into it, the Food and Drug Administration is urging that you start.
In February the FDA announced plans to test avocados for various foodborne illnesses. After sampling over 1,500 imported and U.S.-grown avocados, the agency reported on December 7 that over 17 percent of all of their collected fruit had tested positive for traces of listeria — but only on their skin. The skin also tested positive for trace elements of salmonella, but at a much lower rate (less than 1 percent).
If you’re wondering how you could get sick if the bacteria is only on the outside of the avocado, the FDA explains that it can be transferred by whatever knife you’re using to cut into the fruit. That’s why they’re urging consumers to thoroughly wash fruit — even avocados, melons, bananas, oranges and other fruits that you cut into but don’t eat the skin — and to wipe it with a dry paper towel or cloth before eating.
So if you’re planning on making guacamole or avocado toast, wash your fruit. Even if you don’t think you need to, you should wash all fruits and vegetables, even the ones that are the least likely to poison you.