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As the avocado has surged in popularity among the middle classes, there has been an unfortunate by-product.

The numbers being treated in hospital for ‘avocado hand’ after stabbing themselves while preparing the fruit have risen dramatically – with victims including Hollywood actress Meryl Streep.

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Now a group of schoolchildren have invented a gadget that it is hoped will reduce the risk.

The Avogo, which is designed to slice and de-stone avocados safely, is the brainchild of Brighton College pupils Pietro Pignatti, Morano Campori, Seth Rickard, Felix Winstanley, Shiven Patel, all 14, and Matias Paz Linares, 13. They came up with the idea after Shiven became a victim of ‘avocado hand’ one morning while making breakfast.

Encouraged by their design and technology teacher Sarah Awbery, they worked on a prototype cast from pewter and soon realised they had hit on a winning idea when Shiven’s parents started using it at home. As word got around, the independent school pupils began to rack up sales of prototypes in their community.

The Avogo has already caught the eye of the Design Museum in London, which awarded it first place in its Ventura product design competition.

The judges said the product ticked all the boxes – it was ‘totally relevant’ to today’s consumers, addressed a need that did not exist a decade ago, and was ‘extremely marketable’. The Avogo is easy to hold, and features a hook and a curved blade to cut the avocado and remove the stone.

Shiven said: ‘We love GCSE design and technology so it was a real challenge when Miss Awbery told us about the competition. I have cut my hand before trying to get the stone out of an avocado so that helped us with our idea. We tried to think about something useful that just wasn’t out there already and the idea just popped into our heads.’

After winning the Design Museum competition the team are now setting up a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to manufacture 250, selling at £10 each. The boys plan to donate all the profits to charity. The Daily Mail has highlighted how accidentally slicing yourself instead of your avocado can cause serious damage to nerves and tendons in the hand.

Miss Streep suffered a nasty cut and reportedly needed surgery after injuring herself in 2012. Chef Jamie Oliver has made a video demonstrating how to cut an avocado safely, while doctors have repeatedly warned people to take care while preparing them.

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Surgeons say A&E departments have seen increasing numbers of victims of avocado hand, with St Thomas’ Hospital in Central London reportedly seeing four people every week with the injury.