TikTok viral avocado hack condemned by FDA, warns it can spread bacteria

Avocado stored in water in the refrigerator
A trick circulating on TikTok that promises to keep your avocado fresh for weeks has been condemned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Photo credit: @shamamamahealing / TikTok

We all know avocados are fickle little fruits (yes, they are a fruit) that morph into unappetising brown mush before you can say, 'holy guacamole'. 

After days of being as hard as the Hulk's muscles, the green buggers suddenly decide to ripen with little to no warning - and proceed to turn into goop if not immediately consumed. I can almost hear the millennials gasping in despair.

But a trick circulating on TikTok that promises to keep your beloved avocado fresh for weeks is now being condemned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The easy but queasy hack was captured on TikTok by @shamamamahealing, who claimed that a "magic" method of refrigerating the unopened fruit in a container of water could extend its life "for up to a month". To demonstrate, the mum displayed a supposedly two-week-old avocado that still appeared bright green and seemingly edible, with the clip racking up more than six million views.

But as reported by local media, refrigerating produce in water can actually breed salmonella and harbour other harmful bacteria.

"The FDA does not recommend this practice," a spokesman for the FDA told Newsweek.

"The main concern is with the possibility that any residual human pathogens (ie Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp etc) that may be residing on the avocado surface may potentially multiply during the storage when submerged in water."

Testing conducted by the administration also found that despite maintaining their aesthetic appeal, the hack does not keep the avocados fresh - by any stretch of the imagination.

The FDA's study of 1615 avocado skins found that 17.73 percent were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that is particularly harmful to pregnant women, seniors and those with weakened immune systems. However, storing the fruit in water for extended periods of time will only exacerbate the likelihood of that bacteria multiplying.

Further research conducted by the FDA also found that submerging avocados in refrigerated water allowed the bacteria to infiltrate the skin, directly contaminating the flesh.

"In addition, research performed by FDA scientists has shown that Listeria monocytogenes has the potential to infiltrate and internalise into the pulp of avocados when submerged in refrigerated dump tanks within 15 days during refrigerated storage," the spokesperson explained to Newsweek.

"In this case, even surface disinfecting the avocado skin prior to slicing would not be able to remove the contamination."