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An English Plastic Surgeon Wants Avocados to Come With a Warning Label

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Avocados are loaded with healthy fats, but the fashionable fruits pose a serious health hazard for home chefs: As Konbini reports, emergency rooms in England are seeing an increase in knife-related hand injuries, all from people trying to prepare avocados. Surgeons chalk the phenomenon up to the food’s fairly recent trendiness and have coined a nickname, "avocado hand," for these types of wounds.

No official stats exist just yet, but according to The Times of London, a multitude of avocado-related accidents have led to "serious nerve and tendon injuries, requiring intricate surgery." Some patients have even lost function in their injured appendages.

On this side of the pond, according to The New York Times, "the United States [doesn’t] track kitchen injuries by ingredient," so it’s hard to know for sure how many people are being injured while prepping the fruit. That said, one Mental Floss editor is all too familiar with the dangers of avocados: "My boyfriend once sliced open his finger trying to pit an avocado," she says. "A lot of blood and a trip to Urgent Care later and he still can't bend the finger fully."

Things have gotten so out of, uh, hand in England's ER rooms that the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons is now cautioning avocado lovers about the safety risk. One noted plastic surgeon, Simon Eccles, even says the fruits need warning labels.

"It needs to be recognizable," Eccles—who treats an average of four patients a week for avocado-related accidents—tells The Times. "Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?"

Avocados are tricky to prep, thanks to their oval shapes, hard pits, and buttery texture. But to peel them, all one needs is a butter knife, or even a spoon—and judging from a bevy of gruesome ER pictures, many home chefs get knife-happy, and use sharp blades to slice and dice the food.

In short, choosing a sharp or serrated blade to cut a slippery, oblong fruit is definitely an avocadon't. Some advice: Steer clear of the chef knives the next time you’re in the mood for avocado toast, and opt for a blunt tool. Your hands (and wallet—ER trips are expensive) will thank you.

[h/t Konbini]

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Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
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No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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