According to the FDA, That Viral Avocado Storing Hack Everyone’s Obsessed with Isn’t Safe — Here’s Why

published May 26, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman
We Tried 7 Ways to Ripen an Avocado, and the Results Are Surprising

This spring, we tested and wrote about a viral “hack” for storing avocados. While conventional wisdom holds that keeping them in the refrigerator will extend their shelf life for a few days, the original poster on Facebook claimed that submerging them in a container of water in the fridge would dramatically boost their lifespan. One of Kitchn’s writers tried the experiment and considered it to be a success. But we have since learned this method is not safe — and the FDA warns against doing it. 

What’s the problem with storing avocados with this method? The water is an ideal environment for dangerous pathogens to thrive. Here’s what we learned in a statement from an FDA spokesperson:

“The FDA does not recommend this practice.  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 (FDA Microbiological Surveillance Sampling for Whole Fresh Avocados), 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.

What does this mean, exactly? If there are no existing pathogens on your avocados, you don’t have to worry. The problem, of course, is that it’s impossible to see listeria or salmonella. Not only that, but food that comes from a complicated and extensive supply chain carries greater risk of contamination. The safest course of action is to assume your avocados could contain pathogens, and to handle them with maximum attention to food safety. (This post has some good microbiologist-approved tips.)

If you’re currently storing avocados in water, compost them or throw them out. So how should you keep avocados fresh in the future? Storing them at room temperature, on the counter, is fine; it will expedite the ripening process. Once your avos are at peak ripeness, you can simply pop them in the fridge — without a bowl of water. 

Here’s one other bold idea: You could just, you know, eat them.

How do you store your avocados?