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/ Source: TODAY
By Lyn Mettler

Avocados are undeniably awesome, but it turns out that this versatile green fruit isn't perfect. The outer shell that keeps the tender fruit inside safe may not be edible, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be washed.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report released earlier this month found that more than 17 percent of avocados the agency tested for the foodborne pathogen listeria monocytogenes had the bacteria present on the skin.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that the FDA says can cause serious problems for pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. It's also been blamed for the recent contamination of several food items including ready-to-eat salads that were sold at Trader Joe's.

But how does it get from the avocado's skin to the meat of the fruit? The report explained that the pathogen can be transferred by any knife that is used to cut into the flesh. And everyone has to cut an avocado in order to get to the yummy part inside.

Avocado Fries with Cilantro Crema

The good news is that in the sample tested by the FDA, only .24 percent showed the presence of listeria within the edible pulp.

To reduce the risk of consuming the pathogen, the FDA recommends washing all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking it — even if you are planning to totally remove the rind or peel off the produce first.

Getty Images

The FDA also recommends going a step further with firm produce, like avocados, melons and cucumbers, and scrubbing them with a produce brush, then drying the fruit with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting and consuming.

Many avocado eaters on Twitter were surprised and had mixed reactions about the news that it's now apparently necessary to wash the beloved green guacamole base.

So is the potential for listeria contamination just one more scary food safety issue to worry about?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 260 people die annually from listeria. By comparison, E. coli causes about 30 deaths each year.

With ongoing issues like the romaine lettuce scare earlier this year, it's probably better to be safe than sorry and sick so take a few seconds to wash that avocado ... you've got enough to worry about with avocado hand.