New Zealand consumers urged to be suspicious of black market avocados

As stolen, insecticide-sprayed avocados are reportedly being sold in some parts of the country, New Zealand consumers are being urged to double-check where their fruit comes from.

Earlier this week, an avocado grower in Northland stated that thieves had been stealing fruit from her trees and then selling it in town. But besides hurting the growers' businesses, these alleged thefts could also pose a health risk, as the fruit could contain insecticide.

Jen Scoular, chief executive of New Zealand Avocado: "I think it is a real issue. We have a spray diary system for avocados grown here in New Zealand, so any chemicals that are applied have to be inputted at an orchard level, and that enables everyone to know whether the withholding period has been met."

The withholding period is the period of time the fruit should not be eaten, as chemical residue can still be present. Because stolen fruit is not yet ready for sale, that residue could still be present and pose a risk to anyone who eats it.

"I think it's an awareness to consumers and those purchasing, if they're purchasing as a fruit shop or a small fruteria, that they really need to be aware of the source of their avocados," Scoular told, adding that it's always important to ask at farmers markets or wherever you're buying avocados.

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