As a surgeons’ association suggests avocados should carry a warning label, we asked readers for tales of their own chopping-board disasters
- Warning: contains graphic content
This article titled “‘I peeled my finger instead of the coconut’: readers on their fruit- and vegetable-related injuries” was written by Guardian readers, for theguardian.com on Friday 12th May 2017 12.24 UTC
The number of people admitted to A&E with knife-related injuries from trying to cut avocados has risen, according to the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. The association said safety labels should appear on the fruit to prevent people from cutting themselves. We asked readers for their experiences of their injuries from preparing food. Some names have been changed to protect identities.
JB, 39, Midlands: This was totally a result of me being a complete numpty
I tried to de-stone an avocado by holding it in one hand and stabbing it with a knife in the other. The knife was blunt and didn’t go in first time so I did it again. It bounced off the pit, and slid between my middle and ring finger, nicely slicing my ring finger down to the bone. Though I needed minor surgery to repair it, I don’t think we should have safety warning labels. I accept that this was totally a result of me being a complete numpty! I gave the knife to a friend afterwards.
Yvonne, 56, Australia: I confused peach flesh with human flesh
While holding a peach in my left hand and a brand new paring knife in my right hand I tried to remove the stone from the peach. As I sliced through I rotated the peach. I somehow confused peach flesh with human flesh and cut through the inside of my pinky finger at the joint, going right through to the bone and severing the nerve. The pain was like an explosion.
I would have permanently lost all feeling on the outside of my little finger had I not had micro-surgery to reattach the nerve. Three years later I still have some numbness and lumpiness at the finger joint but I did get some feeling back. I now cut all my fruit carefully on the chopping board, never while holding it in my hand. It did put me off peaches a bit. I haven’t had a fresh peach since. I might one day but there’s still some association with the pain!
Jonesy, 54, Washington DC: I took a vegetable peeler to a coconut
I decided to make a coconut cake for Easter dinner, but with the real thing, not the bag of shredded stuff. I got the coconut open, got the milk out, and pried most of the meat out. But the meat was covered by this brown, papery skin. I could have grated it right there but I couldn’t have brown flecks in my cake. So I took a vegetable peeler to it. Which kind of worked, until I hit a bump or snag and wound up peeling my finger instead of the coconut. It bled a lot and wouldn’t stop. I faint when I get a sharp pain, see blood, or get overheated but usually these are slow faints and I can feel them coming. I tried to get the box with the bandages and started to faint.
I thought of calling an ambulance but didn’t think it was that serious. I wound up having to call my brother in the suburbs. He drove the 10 miles or so in a panic but did wind up bandaging me up. I have since made coconut cake, but now have no problem starting with the bags of shredded stuff.
George, 20, York: I’m waiting for the sensation to return to my fingers
I stabbed my hand getting the stone out of an avocado. The knifepoint went into my palm and I sustained damage to the nerve, muscle and artery, which all had to be operated on. The sensation is still in the process of returning to my fingers. I’ve definitely learned my lesson.
Aurora, 60+, Boston: I was trying to cut the top skin off an orange
I had just bought some new paring knives and was trying to cut off the top skin of a big orange. I wasn’t paying attention and sliced into my right index finger almost to the bone. Blood everywhere. In retrospect I should have gone to hospital and had stitches but I self-treated instead – cleaned the wound, dressed it and nearly fainted. Now, nearly nine months later, the wound has healed nicely with a small scar, but I still can’t bend the first joint all the way and feeling in the top joint is only slowly coming back. I continue to love oranges and sharp knives, but I’ve made it a rule to pay attention!
Sally, 34, Stirling: The knife went through it like butter
I was making some nachos and the knife I used to cut open the avocado for the guacamole easily went through the skin of the avocado and mine too. It was quick and went in quite deep. The avocado was much softer and more ripe than I expected, meaning the knife went through it like butter. It would be ridiculous to have warning labels. Cutting yourself is completely your own fault. We don’t have warnings on kerbstones to say: “Watch the edge, you may break your ankle!”
Sasha, 74, Bristol: I walked to A&E, my hand wrapped in kitchen paper held high above my head
I was preparing an avocado to have on toast for breakfast, when the knife with which I was trying to remove the stone slipped and went straight into the fourth finger of the hand in which I was holding the half avocado. It bled dramatically, and after ascertaining that nobody at my GP’s surgery could help, I walked half a mile or so to the nearest A&E to get stitched up. I must have been a funny sight: an old woman walking briskly along with one hand wrapped in yards of kitchen paper held high above her head (to stop the bleeding). We’re so bombarded with warnings of every kind that such labels would probably be ignored. Since my accident I have taken to removing the stone using a teaspoon, with which it would be difficult for even the clumsiest of people to inflict a serious injury.
Hilary, 29, Portland: I was afraid of avocados for a while
I stabbed myself trying to get the pit out of an avocado. I know how to do it safely, but it was a stubborn pit and I decided to try cutting it out. Unfortunately, I was using an incredibly sharp knife and lost control. I stabbed through the fruit and through the base of my ring finger. I headed to the emergency room to get stitches. Two on one side and then one more on the exit wound, because I literally went through my finger. My sense of touch on that finger is not quite what it used to be, but it’s fine. No rings for me though.
I don’t think fruit and vegetables should have labels but more complicated items, such as avocados, pomegranates and mangos, could come with a guide for how to appropriately cut them. I was afraid of avocados for a while, so I had a friend cut one for me one time and she didn’t know how to handle it. I watched in terror as she haphazardly stabbed around the pit bringing flashbacks of my own accident. Since then I do it myself, but I never try to cut around the pit. A chef’s knife, a firm tap and a twist is all you need.
Mary, 25, London: After a horrific cut I ended up needing plastic surgery
My experience was pretty horrific. I was trying to peel a butternut squash and was being lazy as it was 9pm so used a very sharp knife, slipped and sliced my finger open. I went to A&E as it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I was sent home a few hours later with just Steri-Strips on the wound, having been told it would heal in five days. Definitely not the case. It bled all through the night so I went to a different hospital first thing the next morning, where the nurses were horrified I’d been sent home with just a bandage. I ended up being referred to a plastic surgeon as I’d nipped the tendon in my finger too with the knife. Luckily I didn’t need invasive surgery, just nine stitches in my finger. It’s definitely put me off butternut squash!
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